JSW steel announced the company would increase their daily oxygen supply limit to 900mt by the end of April by cutting output. In April, the company would supply 20,000mt oxygen from its plants in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu to meet the demand for medical-grade oxygen.
The second wave of COVID-19 infection in India has increased rapidly. New case registration rose to 3,60,960 on Wednesday according to official data. The country’s healthcare system is massively stressed with hospitals running out of oxygen supply for critically ill patients.
JSW Chairman Sajjan Jindal said, “saving lives is more important than producing steel and production could suffer as long as the country needs any resources available with the company”.
Steel Authority of India (Sail) on Tuesday announced the temporary shut down of the Bhilai plant to enhance oxygen supplies.
The government has banned the industrial use of oxygen to maximize availability for hospitals. In another development, the Supreme court has permitted Vedanta to run the oxygen production unit at its copper plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.
Despite the focus on supplying oxygen, steel production at large producers is expected to be impacted to a lesser extent compared to secondary steelmakers. In a statement, Jindal Steel’s MD VR Sharma said steel output will be lowered by 5-7pc to supply oxygen for medical use, which can be adjusted for in the near term. The company is supplying 50-100mn mt liquid oxygen to hospitals daily.
Steelmakers have reduced their safety stock at plants to 0.5days from 3.5 days earlier, to increase the availability of oxygen, the steel ministry stated.