Coal India arms considering installing oxygen plants

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CIL, the state-owned corporation, announced on Tuesday that three of its subsidiaries are considering installing oxygen generation plants to alleviate the shortage of life-saving gas. The announcement comes at a time when the country is experiencing an oxygen shortage due to the revival of COVID-19.

The PSU also stated that it is on high alert to protect its employees by increasing medical infrastructure and the availability of oxygen cylinders across its subsidiaries to tackle the spread of COVID-19. The Maharatna coal miner has set up about 2,000 beds, including ICU, isolation, and COVID care beds with oxygen support, in what may be the highest mobilization of COVID beds by a corporate entity in the world.

Although there are over 750 oxygen-supported beds, there are only around 70 ICU beds (up to April 25). Apart from that, CIL’s coal companies have collaborated with local hospitals and state governments to finance and facilitate beds to increase COVID relief efforts. The availability of beds in local outlying areas is also increasing. According to the statement, emergency utility equipment has been scaled up, with approximately 2,000 oxygen cylinders ready for use and 70 ventilators operational (as of April 25).

Plans are being developed to expand the medical facilities to accommodate any future needs. At the highest levels of CIL and coal firms, the situation is being closely monitored, with proposals being developed to supplement emergency medications, beds, and accessories to tackle the COVID.

“Because ours is a labor-intensive industry, we are worried for our workers and are doing all we can to prevent the pandemic from spreading in our mining areas. All of our subsidiaries are fighting on several fronts by increasing protective and relief measures,” a senior CIL official said.

Personal protective equipment is available at coal plants (PPE). So far, a significant number of masks and sanitizers have been distributed as part of one of the biggest logistics mobilizations to combat COVID-19. Concurrently, the company is taking steps to ensure continuous output and offtake. With the arrival of summer, the electricity demand is increasing, and the business must maintain consistent supplies.

CIL has ensured that contract employees do not suffer a pay cut and that maximum salaries are guaranteed to them, even in the case of a lockdown, through the extension of free medical services at CIL’s area hospitals. In addition, CIL has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 15 lakh to the next of kin of employees, including contractual workers, in the event of death caused by COVID.

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