NEW DELHI: Dalmia Bharat has put its entire 26.5 mtpa cement manufacturing capacity under suspension, a company press release said on Thursday. The company was forced to take the step in view of the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has so far claimed 13 lives in the country and prompted the government to enforce a 21-day nationwide lockdown that came into effect Wednesday.

The country’s fourth largest cement manufacturer operates across nine states and 12 manufacturing units.

The plants will remain closed till further notice, the release quoted the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mahendra Singhi as saying.

“We are continuously monitoring the situation and the immediate task is to ensure that the chain of transmission of COVID 19 breaks. We will decide to restart production once the lockdown is over, basis the directions of the state and central governments," he said in the release.

While cement production is continuous in nature and the plants have requisite permission from both the state and the central governments to operate with minimum employees during the lockdown, Dalmia Bharat will only carry out mandatory activities required for safety and security of the plants in the larger interest of its staff, the release said.

Dalmia Bharat joins the ranks of automobile, electronics and some FMCG companies as well that have ceased production at their plants to prevent spread of the virus that first originated in China in December. There are 633 active cases in India as of now with 44 recoveries and 16 deaths, as per data on Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s website.

The deadly disease has claimed 22,184 lives and affected 492,602 people in 175 countries, according to data available on Johns Hopkins University. There have been 1,19,918 recoveries.

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