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Coronavirus: SAIL scales down production as supplies hit amid lockdown

   New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) State-owned steel maker SAIL has reduced its production by up to 10 per cent amid supplies being hit due to the ongoing lockdown to combat the coronavirus crisis, according to a source.

     The development comes days after the steel ministry directed its PSUs, including SAIL, to not reduce production.       SAIL, which has an installed capacity of over 21 million tonne per annum (MTPA), produces about 50,000 tonne of hot metal and 48,000 tonne crude steel on a daily basis.

     'The company has reduced its production by 7-10 per cent,' the source said adding that the decision has been taken in view of the supplies being affected due to the lockdown.

      The source said the company is facing difficulties in getting the raw materials as well as in dispatching the products through rail and road.

     'Transportation of raw materials is affected. Even if we continue production, then where to sell the output? Everything is closed. Under the current scenario we can't just pile up inventories, ' the source said requesting anonymity.        On Monday, Steel Secretary Binoy Kumar chaired a meeting via video-conferencing, in which senior officials of steel PSUs like SAIL, RINL, NMDC, MOIL and KIOCL, among others, participated.       In the meeting, the official while enquiring about the preparedness at their plants and units in the wake of coronavirus outbreak of had asked the PSUs to continue to produce as usual and not reduce the production levels.  SAIL and other public sector undertakings (PSUs) also apprised the ministry about the issues faced by their officials during the current lockdown.       The source said keeping the vital equipment like coke oven batteries, blast furnaces etc in running condition is very essential for steel plants.           Blast furnace is a large structure of about 30 metre high at steel plants. It is lined with refractory firebricks that can withstand temperatures as high as 2,000 celcius.

     Once stopped, it takes several months for a steel company to re-start the critical steel making process.       The source further said 'SAIL is facing challenges in movement of essential items required for production, clearances and handling at ports, movement of employees and labours. It is also facing difficulty in unloading of materials from rakes at sidings. Due to this, production is also getting marginally affected.'     However, many of the above issues are getting resolved over time and the company is monitoring emerging situation on continuous basis with respect to the availability and supply of raw materials, production and dispatch. PTI ABI ANU ANU