The Ballari District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BDCCI) has cautioned the Karanataka government against complete closure of the JSW Steel Plant at Toranagal in the district owing to the alarming spread of COVID-19, according to media reports.
V Ravikumar, President of BDCCI, said if there are errors on part of JSW Steel it should be corrected rather than demanding for a complete shutdown. Any stoppage of the furnace will take at least six months to restart and lead to heavy loss particularly when demand for steel is so low. Over 2 lakh people are dependent on JSW Steel for livelihood and the company is in trouble since it resumed operations after the lockdown norms were eased, he noted.
The State and district administration are imposing stringent containment measures as the COVID-19 cluster in Ballari is increasing.
The first COVID-19 case was reported at the plant on June 3 when an employee of JSW steel Corex Plant tested positive after the lockdown was partially eased.
The Corex Plant was closed and over 10,000 employees asked to work from home. JSW Steel has quarantined over 1,086 employees of which 246 tested positive while results of another 300 are awaited.
He added the State and Central governments have handled the health issues related to the pandemic efficiently, and now aim to reduce the impact on industries and employment.
Ballari accounts for about 15-20pc of India’s overall steel production and contributes over Rs7,000 crore ($926.2m) annually to the State exchequer.
The company has converted its Jindal Sanjeevani Multi-Specialty Hospital into a full-fledged COVID care hospital and offered to convert its OP Jindal Vocational Training Centre into a COVID centre. Presently, the training centre is an isolation centre for suspected COVID cases.
The district administration and State forest minister Anand Singh will soon take a decision amid growing demand for suspension of production at the plant.
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