Indian Steel Giants Sacrificing Output to Step Up Oxygen Supplies
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Indian Steel Giants Sacrificing Output to Step Up Oxygen Supplies

According to latest media reports, Indian primary steel mills have finally started to cut steel production to step up oxygen supplies to save lives. Joining

According to latest media reports, Indian primary steel mills have finally started to cut steel production to step up oxygen supplies to save lives. Joining Steel Authority of India Ltd, which said that its Bhilai plant is taking a temporary shutdown to boost oxygen supplies, JSW Steel said it is reducing output to augment liquid medical oxygen supply to more than 900 tonnes a day by April-end, and more than 20,000 tonnes for the entire month. Other mills, including Tata Steel Ltd, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, AMNS India and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, have also been supplying oxygen for medical purposes in the past few weeks

JSW Chairman Mr Sajjan Jindal said “Saving lives is more important than producing steel and production can suffer for as long as the country is in need of any resource available with the company.”

JSW Steel has tripled Liquid Medical Oxygen production at its Ballari plant to over 680 tonnes per day currently. JSW Steel Vijayanagar Works President Mr Rajashekhar Pattanasetty said “We have taken several measures to increase the availability of Liquid Medical Oxygen at the hospitals. This includes optimisation of steel production and increasing Liquid Medical Oxygen availability.”

Last week, JSPL Managing Director Mr VR Sharma had said that “Maybe some 5% to 7% production loss can be there but it is nothing, and can be made up in times to come."

Jindal Stainless Ltd has started supplying liquid oxygen from Jajpur unit in Odisha from Saturday. Over 40 tonne LMO is being dispatched on a daily basis to meet the increasing demand in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and other states and till date 128 tonne of oxygen has already been supplied

The higher supply of medical oxygen will save lives, but will have a bearing on some sectors. CRISIL Ratings Director Mr Gautam Shahi said “The disruption in the supply of oxygen for industrial use would temporarily impact the revenues of small and mid-sized companies into metal fabrication, automotive components, shipbreaking, paper, and engineering. These typically do not have captive oxygen plants and source their requirement through merchant suppliers for operations such as welding, cutting, cleaning and chemical processes.”

Tribune News Service reported that steel industries in industrial hubs of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh in Solan district and Kala Amb and Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district in Himachal Pradesh continued to operate and use industrial oxygen despite the Ministry of Home Affairs directing all states to ban use of industrial oxygen for industrial purposes. Enquires revealed that all 12 to 15 steel units in the BBN industrial hub were operational. Similar scenario was witnessed in the Paonta Sahib and Kala Amb industrial areas, which was the hub of steel units in the state. There were about 20 functional steel and iron mills in both the district.

Meanwhile, clearing the confusion following rumours of state government's orders to shut down iron and steel industry amid oxygen shortage, Punjab’s Industries Minister Mr Sundar Sham Arora said there are no such directions and industries have only been asked to stop processes that use oxygen. Mr Arora said, “There is no ban on operation of the iron and steel industry in Punjab. We have only ordered to shut processes using oxygen. The step is taken as an emergency measure to meet the high demand for the medical grade gas for Covid patients. Once the situation improves and there is sufficient buffer stock of oxygen in the state, the order will be revoked.”

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