ICEA: If the lockdown is not lifted by May-end, 4 crore people may be without mobiles
New Delhi: An industrial body commented on Friday that if restrictions on the sale of handsets and spare parts continue then by the end of May, about 4 crore mobile phone users in the country would be without handsets due to faults and breakdowns. More than 2.5 crore mobile customers at present are estimated to be with non-functional devices due to the unavailability of the desired equipment caused by the lockdown. This was claimed by the ICEA.
The lockdown which has entered into the fifth week has kept slots open only for essential goods and services. Though the operations of telecom, internet, broadcast, and IT services are allowed it is not for mobile devices that are pertinent for accessing those operations in the first place.
Leading handset makers like Apple, Foxconn, and Xiaomi said that on average, approximately 2.5 crore new mobiles are sold every month their active users are 85 crores currently.
“A very large proportion of these purchases are replacements. In addition, even with a much-improved quality of phones and mobile devices, there is an approximately 0.25 percent break down on a monthly basis. With the current mobile base at nearly 85 crore,\ it is clear that nearly 2.5 crore individuals are suffering due to the non-availability of new devices or repair of their existing devices,” ICEA said.
Due to the danger of life-threatening circumstances, the industry body has approached the Prime Ministers several times to include mobile phones in the list of necessary goods.
“We have written to the government that these numbers will expand to nearly 4 crores before the end of May. It is critical that mobile device sales via online, and in a phased manner via retail, as well as service centers with facilities for home delivery and pickup must be declared as “essential services”, in addition to grocery and medicines,” ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo said.
There are several district administrations that have made the Aarogya Setu App mandatory for those who run errands or go out of their house, making it difficult for those who do not have smartphones.
A joint representation has been made by ICEA with the traders’ body CAIT to the Home Minister, Home Secretary, Commerce & Industry Minister, Secretary DPIIT and Secretary Meity (also currently the chair of the Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management) for allowing sales of mobile devices under the “essential services” category.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT has recommended the Home Ministry to provide mobile devices including laptops some space in the list of essential goods but the MHA is yet to accept it.