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CIL  slowed down  operations as about 5k employees  found Covid positive

New Delhi, May 5,2021 (PTI) Coal India Ltd (CIL) on Tuesday said its operations slowed down on account of more than 5,400 of the company''s employees and their wards across subsidiaries testing positive for coronavirus.

However, offtake rose to 54.1 Million Tonnes (MTs) last month, the company said in a statement.

"Offtake could have been even higher but the pandemic spread afflicted over 5,400 company''s employees and their wards across subsidiaries, including contractual workers, slowing down the operations. Most of them are involved in the frontline output and offtake operations," CIL said.

Out of the total coal offtake of 54.1 MT, the power sector lifted 42.4 MT or 78.4 per cent of the dry fuel. Non-power sector accounted for the remaining 11.7 MT.

"Despite the setback, coal supplies logged a 3.3 per cent growth compared to a COVID free April of FY''20 while the growth was even higher at 6.1 per cent against April FY''19 when CIL chalked up its highest ever coal off-take of 607 MT," the company said.

Drawing growth comparison with April last year would be anomalous because of the near total lockdown then. Nevertheless, a 15 MT offtake increase, in a month, is a good sign signalling demand revival for coal. For the record, the year-on-year growth for April this year was 38.4 per cent, the statement said.

"The key issue is demand has to sustain. If it holds, it bodes well for us in bringing down coal inventory further and increase supplies," the company said.

Meeting any demand spurt from the power sector would not be a problem but transport logistics taking a toll due to the second surge of COVID-19 is a matter of concern, it added.

CIL reduced its coal inventory by 12.2 MT in April to 87.2 MT. The company began FY''22 with a record stockpile of 99.3 MT largely due to COVID-prompted tepid demand for the dry fuel.

According to the statement, CIL continues to combat COVID on multiple fronts. It has set up a total of 3,000 beds, most of them oxygen- supported ones, including ICU beds. Additional 900 beds are being planned and out of them, 60 are ICU ones.

As many as 1,820 oxygen cylinders and over 200 ventilators are on ready condition. Over 77,000 employees, their wards and contractual workers, of over 45 years, have been vaccinated till May 2 since the beginning of FY''22 in an ongoing programme, it added.