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Pump In More Funds Into Steel Sector: Pm

Published by MAC on 2006-05-20
Source: Hindu Businessline ()

STEEL

Pump in more funds into steel sector: PM

Hindu Businessline

20th May 2006

There is a pressing need to invest more in the steel sector, both in the public and private sectors, and to attract investments (including FDI) to achieve the target of 100 million tonnes by 2020 as envisaged in the new steel policy, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, has said.

He was speaking at a meeting in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on Saturday after inaugurating the Rs. 8,692-crore expansion project. The project, scheduled to be completed in three years, will enhance the capacity of the plant from 3.6 million tonnes to 6.3 million tonnes. He unveiled a pylon on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said the country, with its vast reserves of iron ore, should be one of the leading producers of steel in the world, but the steel production and consumption were below par. "It is ironic that when an Indian, Lakshmi Mittal, is regarded as the steel king in the world, we are lagging behind. When I met him, I told him that he should come back and help build up the industry in India.''

RINL, example to other PSUs

He said the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) had set an example to other PSUs by turning around and wiping out all the losses and paying off the debts. "It is a landmark achievement and an example to the PSUs,'' he said. The Prime Minister also paid homage to the people who lost their lives in the agitation for setting up a steel plant here. (More than 30 persons died in different incidents in the late sixties during the agitation.)

"This steel plant has been built up on the blood, sweat and tears of the Telugu people. I pay homage to all those who laid down their lives for the plant,'' he said.

He said the expansion of the steel plant capacity would usher in great prosperity and pave the way for the industrial development of the region and the State. "The Kakinada-Visakhapatnam belt is poised for a great leap forward industrially. The Visakhapatnam port as well the gas reserves in the Krishna-Godavari basin will play a crucial role in the transformation of the region.'' Reiterating Government's commitment to the all-round development of all the regions in the State, the Prime Minister also promised to render all necessary help for the revival of the ailing public sector units in Visakhapatnam - the Hindusthan Shipyard Ltd and the Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Ltd.

Dr Manmohan Singh gave away the Prime Minister's trophy for the best steel plant in the country to Mr Y. Sivasagara Rao,Chairman and Managing Director of the RINL, for the year 2002-2003. For 2001-2002, the trophy was awarded to Tata Steel and for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 to Bhilai Steel plant. The representatives of the plants received the trophy from the Prime Minister. The trophy carries a cash award of Rs 1 crore. Mini Ratna status to RINL

Earlier, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Minister of Steel, announced the conferring of Mini Ratna status on RINl and said it would help the plant in expediting the expansion work.

He exhorted the employees of the RINL to complete expansion ahead of the three-year schedule. He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5,000 for each employee on the occasion. A steel research and development centre would be set up in Hyderabad, the Minister added. Chief Minister's plea

Earlier, the AP Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, appealed to the Prime Minister not to merge RINL with SAIL.

"I understand there is such a proposal. It should be shelved immediately. It is my fervent appeal to the Prime Minister. It is a retrograde, dangerous proposal. Instead, RINL should be granted captive mines to make it more profitable,'' he pleaded.

The Prime Minister in his speech did not directly respond to the plea of the Chief Minister but referred to the need for rationalising the use of iron ore and coal reserves for steel production.

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