GOVT. SENSITIVE TO THE PROBLEMS FACED BY STEEL INDUSTRY: SHRI PASWAN
The Minister for Steel Chemicals and Fertilisers Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has urged the Steel Authority of India to face up to the challenges that are confronting the steel sector in the context of the recent economic downturn. He was addressing the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the steel major here today. On this day in 1959, the first blast furnace of the Rourkela Steel Plant was heated by the first president Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The Minister said, steel sector has been particularly hit by production cuts and price reductions worldwide. He said, however, in India, the steel sector has not been affected severely like other countries. He thanked the steel industry of cooperating with the government when prices were rapidly going up. Now that the industry is facing difficulties, the government has taken a series of steps to reduce the impact of slowdown. He said, import duty has been hiked, excise duty has been reduced and HR coil has been moved to the restricted list.
Paying glowing tributes to the vision of the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in setting up the steel plants, Shri Paswan said, we must take that vision forward. He said, the unprecedented modernization and expansion plan of SAIL will take its capacity to 26 million tonnes of hot metal and the total steel making capacity in India to 124 million tonnes by 2012. He said, Pandit Nehru’s vision of mixed economy has helped us to reduce the impact of the global meltdown. Praising the quality of steel produced by SAIL, he said, it is in no way less than that of any global player. He said, India is the fifth largest steel producer in the world will soon achieve the global norms of production.
Minister of State for Communication and IT, Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia who was present to unveil the postage stamp to mark the day, recalled the vision of former Prime Ministers Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi in making India self sufficient in basic industries and technology. He said, SAIL has led from the front in contributing to the creation of world class infrastructure in India. He said, the postage stamp released today will carry the story of the success of SAIL across the globe. He also praised SAIL for taking the initiative in spending 2 per cent of its profit in such areas as health care, education and flood relief as a part of its corporate social responsibility.
Recalling the dreams of Pandit Nehru in building modern India, Minister of State for Steel Shri Jitin Prasada said, the 50 years of SAIL has certainly realized some of them. He said, the UPA government has stopped disinvestment in PSUs and some of the companies have been doing well and helped us at a time of global slowdown. He also urged other PSUs to follow the example of SAIL in CSR activities.
Secretary Steel, Shri P.K.Rastogi said, that the challenges that lie ahead for the steel industry are daunting. They have to increase energy efficiency and cut costs. While we can look back with pride for what we have achieved, we have to rededicate ourselves to meet the future challenges. He said, the low level of consumption provides enough scope for the Indian steel sector to grow on the back of untapped demand.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Dr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy, President, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Dr. M.K. Pandhe, President, CITU. Dr. Pandhe said the mechanism to resolve all issues concerning workers through the joint bipartite committee has worked well in SAIL. Dr. Reddy said the contribution of the workers to the 50 glorious years can not be forgotten. He also praised the industrial relation and emphasized that during the last several years there has been no strike.
A commemorative postal stamp was released on the occasion. Shri Paswan also released a commemoration medallion and presented it to the Chairman of SAIL, Shri S.K. Roongta. Two former employees, one each from Rourkela and Bhillai Steel Plant associated with lighting of the first blast furnace were felicitated on the occasion.
Earlier, delivering the welcome address, SAIL Chairman, Shri S.K. Roongta said the company has set new records of production and profit during the last four years. He said SAIL is resolved to move ahead despite the current challenging environment and convert the challenges to opportunities. He said SAIL employees have bagged maximum number of Shram Awards which reflects their dedication to the job.