Karnataka's Ballari district administration has extended the sealing of JSW Steel plant and township in Toranagallu village till July 31 to contain the spread of Covid, an official said on Wednesday.
"Restrictions imposed have been extended till July 31. All the officers concerned and on field officers have been ordered to implement these restrictions strictly without any lapse," Ballari Deputy Commissioner S.S. Nakul told IANS.
After a spate of Covid cases in the steel unit - 144 infections and 516 primary contacts under quarantine by mid-June, Nakul, on June 18, ordered sealing off of the plant and the township to curb further spread.
In fact, the JSW Steel had also slashed its workforce for a period of five days prior to the sealing-off in an effort to contain the spread but to no avail.
"Even after this attempt, the employees may spread Covid further on their return to their villages and towns with the possibility of mortality of vulnerable population," Nakul said.
The Deputy Commissioner invoked powers vested in him under the Disaster Management Act to house all the employees of JSW Steel within the township.
"All employees, direct and contractual, required for working in JSW Steel shall be housed within JSW township itself. JSW Steel will select such personnel keeping in view their possible comorbidities," he said.
Starting June 18, no movement of such personnel from nearby villages and towns was allowed into the company.
Similarly, only those people allowed to work have been permitted to move between the township and the factory, but cannot go out beyond this area.
He also directed the company to identify teams who will provide the workers housed inside the township with essentials such as food, milk and others.
"Only movement of goods vehicles, empty or carrying load, shall be allowed to move from factory premises to other places. JSW Steel shall strive to test their employees and report all ILI or SARI cases housed in the township," said Nakul.
He also tasked the company to furnish a daily report.
Currently, Ballari is grappling with the second highest number of Covid cases in Karnataka with 485 active patients. On Wednesday, 85 new cases were reported.
Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Ltd (JVSL) was formed in 1994 and boasts a capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). It was merged with Jindal Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) in 2005.
The company claims that its Ballari steel plant, located across 10,000 acres in the Ballari-Hospet iron ore belt, is the world's sixth largest. It also said the plant owns India's largest blast furnace, widest hot strip mill and employs corex technology.
Some of the products manufactured at the plant include hot rolled coils and sheets, billets and cold rolled close annealed (CRCA) coils and sheets.
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