Relevance of sports in Punjab can be gauged from the fact that the state government in 2013 had announced that good performance in sports could fetch an early release for prisoners from jail. But three months of the coronavirus lockdown has broken the back of sports goods manufacturers in Jalandhar. Lesser demand coupled with shortage of labour has resulted in the disruption of supply chain. Sales pick up pace between February to May but according to Ravinder Dheer, a manufacturer and trader of sports goods, all these months have gone to waste.
“Sales pick up during the initial five months of the year but due to lockdown the labourers left and now when schools and colleges are shut, the sale of indoor games have also got hit. After the lockdown was lifted the labourers are returning but with lesser demand we don’t have sales and in near future we don’t see any tournaments and sports programme, which is bad news for our sector,” said Dheer.
The industry has also been hit by the boycott call for Chinese goods after the recent face-off at Galwan valley. Jalandhar’s sports industry is one of the largest in the country, worth around Rs 1,700 crore, including Rs 400 crore export and Rs 1,300 crore domestic supply out of which nearly Rs 300 crore worth finished goods and raw materials comes from China.
India imports sportswear, table tennis balls, shuttlecocks, badminton and tennis racquets, gym equipment and other goods from China.
Local manufacturers like Vipan Prinja say that they can only capitalise the opportunity if the government not only imposes high anti-dumping duty on finished sports goods from China but also provides competitive technology, infrastructure and industry-friendly atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the state Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, who represented India in shooting in 1978 Commonwealth Games, is also concerned about the athletes as well as the sports goods manufacturers.
“Our coaches are conducting virtual training programmes with the athletes. We are also concerned about the Jalandhar’s sports goods manufacturing sector. They bring foreign exchange and also job opportunities, we will soon hold a meeting with them to address their grievances,” said Sodhi.
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