JSW Steel manages to keep the plant running despite sending 50% staff home

JSW Steel is trying to maintain capacity utilization at its main steel plant at Bellary even as it has extended Work From Home option to 50% of its workforce amid a growing number of COVID cases in the district.

A total of 2,800 people across JSW townships have been quarantined, according to sources in the local administration. The first case was reported on June 4 after a JSW engineer came in contact with 500 employees, out of which 106 were found infected. Following this, 11,000 employees of the 20,000 strong workforces were asked to Work From Home. Ballari so far has 774 confirmed COVID cases, according to the latest health bulletin from the local administration on Monday evening.

While the company did not disclose its capacity utilisation in June, it had reported operating at a level of 83% of capacity in May this year, bouncing back from a lockdown-induced level of 38% in April.

In order to control further spread of infection among employees and local community members, JSW Steel Vijayanagar Works has responded by taking a string of measures to ensure adequate monitoring & support to its employees and community members.

“We have extended Work From Home option to over 50% of our workforce with mandatory use of digital tools like Zoom/MS Teams, for meetings & interactions to avoid physical proximity,”

an official JSW spokesperson said.

JSW has offered Ballari District Administration to convert its OP Jindal Vocational Training Centre into a COVID-19 Treatment Centre to provide additional capacity for treating patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19. The approval of District Administration is awaited. Currently, OP Jindal Vocational Training Centre has been converted into an ‘Isolation Centre’ for the Covid-19 suspected cases.

JSW Foundation, its CSR arm has also joined hands with Ballari District Administration to convert its Jindal Sanjeevani Multi-Specialty Hospital into a full-fledged Covid-19 care Hospital. It has started treating asymptomatic or moderate cases of positive Coronavirus patients of Ballari & adjoining villages.

The Community Health Monitoring Project Team of JSW Foundation have conducted door to door basic Covid-19 screening to record COVID-related symptoms of 22,000 people in 5,100 households across seven surrounding villages. The screening is now being undertaken across the four townships.

Local industry groups like Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association (KISMA) have supported the company’s operations in the face of local dissent. The steel industry in Ballari contributes over Rs 7,000 crore annually to the state exchequer. The JSW Steel factory located at Toranagallu village has an annual capacity of 12 million tonnes and provides direct and indirect livelihood to over 200,000 people, KISMA said in a letter to district authorities.

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