Ranchi, April 1: Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants (Mecon) will be merged with Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan announced here today.
The merger, he said, was a long-standing demand of the consultancy major as the only viable option for its survival and a formal resolution was adopted by the Mecon board of directors last month.
The ministry has agreed to the proposal in principle, Paswan informed, and said that once it is vetted by the finance ministry, he would place it before the cabinet for concurrence. In any case, the minister pointed out, Mecon had been a part of Hindustan Steel which later emerged as SAIL.
The exercise, however, will take time, Paswan cautioned, as several formalities need to be completed before the merger can take place.
Not only was Mecon in the divestment list of the erstwhile ministry of disinvestment, but it had also been referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.
A major financial restructuring of the firm would also have to be done before the merger, the minister added.
In yet another announcement, the minister said all casual workers engaged in the public sector steel plants would be absorbed as regular staff in phases. Contract labourers, however, would be left out of the scheme, he informed.
During his earlier stint as railways and communications minister at the Centre, Paswan recalled, thousands of casual workers had been given regular employment. Now that public sector steel plants are earning profits, he said, they should face no difficulty in gradually absorbing more workforce. The intake, Paswan indicated, will be determined by the profits earned by plants.
No steel plant will be closed down, he assured, not even the loss-making ones. His ministry has cleared the merger of Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) too with SAIL, Paswan said.
Asked to comment on the Jharkhand government's refusal to renew mining lease of three iron ore mines to IISCO, he hoped that the issue would be settled amicably very soon.
The government has reiterated that it would not renew mining lease to IISCO.