Bajaj Auto denies that its Aurangabad plant is shut, says proper protocol was followed after one worker was COVID-19 positive

BCCL
  • Bajaj Auto issued a clarification after news reports surfaced that its manufacturing facility in Aurangabad has been shut down.
  • The company said that “our manufacturing facility at Waluj [Aurangabad] is functioning normally.”
  • However, the company did accept that it had one Covid-19 positive worker on June 6. For which, it took all necessary measures for testing, contact tracing, self-isolation and complete sanitation as per protocol.
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India’s largest two-wheeler and three-wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto issued a clarification after news reports surfaced that its manufacturing facility in Aurangabad has been shut down after 79 employees tested positive for coronavirus.

However, the company said that its “manufacturing facility at Waluj is functioning normally”.

“Post the country wide lockdown, our Waluj facility has been ramping operations from April 24, 2020 onwards. As part of the ramp-up, detailed cleanliness and health check protocols have been drafted and implemented in consonance and compliance with all Government regulations and guidelines. These protocols have been reviewed and approved by appropriate authorities and adherence is strictly monitored by our in-house health and security staff,” the company said in a statement.

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After a month-long shutdown, Bajaj Auto had reopened its plant at Aurangabad in Maharashtra on April 22, and due to the fear of the virus, the company was also working with a limited workforce. The Aurangabad plant handles a bulk of the exports of motorcycles and three-wheelers for the company.

However, the company did accept that it had one Covid19 positive worker on June 6. For which, it took all necessary measures for testing, contact tracing, self-isolation and complete sanitation as per protocol.

The company is now seeing demand normalizing at a faster rate than it expected. According to Jeffries report, overall sales for June were expected to be back at 80% of the normal times with the second half of the month at an almost 90% of the normal level. There is a large component of pent up demand that is driving current sales, it said.

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Since the beginning of 2020, Bajaj Auto’s share price has taken a massive hit because of the coronavirus pandemic, subdued sales and shutting down of showrooms and factories. The share price declined over 10.37% since the beginning of the fourth quarter, till date. The stocks, however, were on a positive trajectory after the automaker reopened many of its plants.
BI India

Earlier, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto had said that India’s approach for a lockdown was all wrong.

"India has been in a draconian lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak. The draconian lockdown has flattened the wrong curve and that being of the GDP," said Bajaj in an interview with Congress’ Rahul Gandhi.

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Bajaj has been batting for the economy to reopen even during the lockdown. He had said that the government should allow everyone to return to work except for those above 60 to help the economy recover.

Bajaj told Rahul that India made a mistake by looking at the "West" and not the "East." He said India should have looked at Japan and South Korea rather than Europe and the US. "Don't understand how despite being an Asian country, we sought not to look East; we looked at Italy, France, Spain, UK & US. Not right benchmarks in any sense be it in terms of inherent immunity, temperature, demography etc. We should have never been looking at the west, who are geographically and demographically different from us," he had said.

Bajaj’s concerns came as Indian automakers have been dealing with the auto slowdown since last year and just as they were hoping to recover sales, the coronavirus lockdown hit them again. Moody’s Investor Service, the credit rating agency earlier said it expects global auto sales to fall 20% in 2020, more than its previous estimate of about 2.5% drop due to coronavirus concerns. It also retained a “negative” outlook on the sector and said it expects a healthy rebound in global sales in 2021 with a growth of 11.5%.

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