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‘This will be a challenging month for every industry from a cash flow point of view’

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As hospitals start setting up temporary isolation facilities for COVID-19 positive patients, the DRI – Pahwa Group has received enquiries for their particulate filtration systems to filter the exhaust from such facilities. Varun Pahwa, President, DRI – Pahwa Group tells Viveka Roychowdhury that he hopes the lockdown on manufacturing eases by April 15 so that they can start manufacturing and delivering on these orders

How do your products connect to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The air conditioning equipment and one of our product portfolios caters to the hospital segment and we often do special air handling units which are required in hospitals. Specifically for coronavirus, which has become an issue from the last two months, we have had requests to produce special air handling units for various temporary hospitals that are coming up in different parts of the world.

Can you give us more information about these temporary hospitals? Which parts of the world are you getting enquiries, orders from?

These are primarily temporary rooms which are not being set up in hospitals but let’s say in the parking lot of the hospitals. It is all being kept under negative pressure. Whatever air comes into these temporary shelters comes from outside. The exhaust of the room, which is supposed to be exhausted out in the atmosphere, is actually what we need to take care of, where it is filtered, (using) particulate filtration.

We however, were only able to get to the design stage. Since manufacturing facilities are on hold in India because of the lockdown, we could not progress forward. The request was specifically from China and Middle Eastern countries.

Have you got similar enquiries from hospitals within India?

Yes, our sales team has started getting preliminary enquiries from India, mostly from the private players. Everyone is getting temporary arrangements made for isolation of the COVID-19 positive patients.

How much would your products add to the cost of building such temporary isolation facilities?

The cost would be very reasonable and our intent is to provide the service as everyone is fighting for the same.

Have you tried getting special permission to start manufacturing such products as it is very crucial to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across our country and the world?

We have not been able to get the permission yet to restart our manufacturing plant but we are hoping that in another two weeks, around April 15, we would be able to get back to manufacturing. From the past month, our exports have suffered and our sales have dropped drastically in the international market as well, including China, due to the direct effect of the virus.

Where are your production plants located in India?

Most of our manufacturing plants are located in Haryana.

What do you want to say to the policymakers during this lockdown? How can they make it smoother the next time to ensure that manufacturing of critical products like yours doesn’t suffer?

One of the key things where we have suffered is logistics and transportation. These two services have completely come to a halt even though ports are working. However, trade services to get materials in and out of the plant in the domestic market and to the shipping ports, has completely stopped. That is something which could have still been managed. We are hoping that by the next week, the government takes steps to allow the transportation to get back to normal. That’s one key aspect. Secondly, this will be a challenging month for every industry; some more, some less, from a cash flow point of view. Let’s see (if there) is any leniency from the government to ensure this one.

We are just hoping that these things ease out and we can be back in business on April 15. We have a month to catch up on; the whole country has lost one month. We are keenly waiting for the lockdown to finish and get back to our lives.

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