Union steel minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday rebutted West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra’s allegation that the Centre was trying to undermine SAIL’s two units in the state —Durgapur steel plant (DSP) and Burnpur steel plant— by dismantling the raw material division in the state’s capital Kolkata.
In his letter to Pradhan, Mitra had written, “I am deeply apprehensive that these two massive plants in Bengal would either be asset stripped or be sold off in the name of disinvestment, having crippled them through the current policy shift.”
“While the iron ore mines of SAIL are located in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, but iron ore is sent to all the plants of SAIL as per their annual production plan. Even though there are no iron ore mines in West Bengal, iron ore for DSP and ISP is dispatched from the SAIL mines located in other states,” Pradhan wrote in a letter to Mitra.
Pradhan added that the present system of central co-ordination for raw material allocation to different plants from various SAIL mines will continue in future also. As DSP and ISP (IISCO Steel Plant in Burnpur) are units of SAIL, there is no question of paying market price for iron ore by them, he said. He also assured that there was no plan to terminate or reduce the employee strength of the company.
“It is pertinent to note that in line with SAIL’s expansion plan, it will have to expand mining operations to produce more iron ore to meet its own requirements. In addition, SAIL will also be able to generate revenue from sole of excess iron ore in the open market under the recent amendments to the MMDR Act, 202l. This will require closer co-ordination with respective state governments and local authorities which con be carried out more effectively and efficiently by the plants located therein,” Pradhan said.
Terming the difficulties mentioned by Mitra in his June 15 letter as “perceived”, Pradhan said, “DSP and ISP are two of the prestigious plants on which SAIL has made large investments.”
SAIL’s raw material division, headquartered in Kolkata, runs 15 mines including iron ore mines, flux mines and coal mines. The eight iron ore mines under the division are spread across Orissa and Jharkhand. The two flux mines are in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh each and the remaining (coking) coal mines are in the ECL spread across Jharkhand and West Bengal.