The units in Ranipet SIDCO and SIPCOT draw their staff from Vellore district whose border at Tiruvalam is just a few kilometers away from neighbouring Kancheepuram district. “We tried to engage vehicles to ferry our employees. But only one out of 10 to fifteen persons gets the e-pass which is insisted by the State government – the Centre had advised waiving of it,” said Ranipet Tiny and Small industries association secretary L Gandhijothi.
Though the State government now allows employing 75 per cent of workforce, the units are able to bring in only 50 per cent of workers due to this, he added.
Most workers were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, and the government had advised industries to get them back at their own cost. However, an entrepreneur seeking anonymity said, “When only 50 per cent seat occupancy is allowed on buses, how are we expected to spend in lakhs to get back 20 or more workers in one vehicle?”
According to the owner of one of the industrial units, a way out would be to allow entry for workers from the erstwhile integrated Vellore district (now trifurcated into Vellore, Ranipet and Tirupattur districts) without insisting on e-passes.
Even individuals with e-passes have found the going tough when they return from inter district visits. In one such case, a person who arrived one hour behind time from Chennai was not allowed inside Ranipet district till he bribed the official Rs 200.
In another incident, a man who took his 10-month-old child to a hospital in Chennai to have stitches removed was not allowed entry despite having e-pass as he was late. Despite showing the child’s bandaged face, officials refused to relent. He finally managed to reach home only around midnight after negotiating through village roads, local sources said.