Sambalpur: For employees in coal PSUs like Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), which are engaged in essential services, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed the twin challenges of ensuring uninterrupted coal supply to meet the rise in demand as mercury levels rise in the country and maintaining the health of its workforce engaged at the forefront amidst a surge in infections. For the first quarter of financial year 2021-22, MCL has prepared a plan with a financial outlay of Rs 32 crore to strengthen the fight against the COVID-19 surge for its employees.
While stressing that the health of MCL's staff and contractual workers is of paramount importance because coal supply is dependent on them, MCL Chairman and Managing Director PK Sinha exhorted the General Managers in the monthly coordination meeting to ensure COVID appropriate behaviour in the workplace. "The health of our officers, staff and contractors' workers should be given paramount importance, as coal supply to power plants is directly dependent on them," the CMD said, asserting that at this juncture, when all the systems have been realigned to support in fight against COVID-19, the country cannot afford dearth of essential commodities due to shortage of power.
An official spokesperson for MCL said on Tuesday that the company has lost 18 employees to COVID-19, while 420 officers and staff are still under treatment for infection. In the backdrop of these deaths and infections, Sinha, during the monthly coordination meeting, stressed on regular health monitoring of coal warriors, who are under treatment at various hospitals as well as at their residences.
To address the issue of vaccination of frontline workers, Keshav Rao, MCL Director (Personnel), has written a letter to the Odisha government and offered to establish COVID-19 vaccination centres at five healthcare facilities of the company in Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundergarh districts. He has also sought help of the government for vaccinating company employees, contractual workers, their family members and peripheral population at the earliest.
Besides sanitisation of offices and other workplaces, MCL is also conducting sanitisation drives in peripheral localities, using 'fog cannons.'
Anticipating a rise in power demand in the country as temperatures soar in the summer months, MCL has ensured more than 4.25 lakh tonne daily supply of coal from its mines during the current fiscal, which was 15 percent higher than the despatch of dry fuel during same period last financial year 2020-21.
MCL has spent Rs 135 crore in different COVID-19 mitigating activities in the state of Odisha during the last financial year 2020-21, and has further extended its support to the state government in establishing COVID-19 hospitals and providing other infrastructure support. The company is procuring 200 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to help Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundergarh and Angul districts to combat Covid-19 pandemic.
MCL, which contributes about 20 percent to the total coal production in the country, has supported the state government and district authorities in setting up and running COVID-19 hospitals with a total 1,405-bed capacity, including 189 in ICUs.
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