At present, more than 2.5 crore mobile customers are estimated to be with non-functional devices due to non-availability of components in the supply chain, the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) claimed. The industry body further added that if restrictions on the sale of handsets and spare parts continue due to the lockdown to contain coronavirus infection, then by May-end an estimated 4 crore mobile phone users in the country are expected to be without handsets due to faults and breakdowns.
India is currently under an extended lockdown till May 3 in order to mitigate the transmission of the deadly coronavirus which has killed 775 people till date. During the lockdown the government has allowed the sale of essential goods and services.
The government has allowed operations of telecom, internet, broadcast and IT services but not mobile devices that are pivotal to accessing all these services.
Making a fresh demand for expanding the “essential services” category ICEA and Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) have urged the government to allow sales and services of mobile phones, laptops and tablets. In a joint letter sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on April 22, industry bodies ICEA and CAIT recommended “allowing the sale and service of mobile devices and its accessories without any further delay.”
The Ministry of Electronics and IT has recommended to the Home Ministry to include mobile devices including laptops in the list of essential goods but the MHA is yet to accept it.
The government’s Aarogya Setu app to help contain coronavirus is running in over 6 crore smartphones.
“Citizens who want to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones are being deprived of Aarogya Setu. We estimate that this runs into at least 10 million (1 crore) citizens already,” ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo said
Mobile phone companies at present only have room for addressing export requirements, which account for around 12 per cent of total production.
In 2019-20, mobile phone players in India exported devices worth about ₹25,000 crore and the total production is estimated to have crossed ₹2 lakh crore now.
The mobile phone industry is estimated to have faced losses of around ₹15,000 crore during the 21-day lockdown which started on March 24.
Coronavirus cases in India have gone up to 24,506, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Among the total people infected as on date, 5,063 have recovered and 775 have died.