The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big strides in IISCO revamp drill

New Delhi, Nov. 10: Indian Iron & Steel Company (IISCO), which is being merged with SAIL, believes it is feasible to increase its capacity to 4 million tonnes in the long run.

For now, the first phase of modernisation of IISCO’s Burnpur plant will add 1.5 mt of steel making capacity to 0.42 million tonnes . The second phase will add another 1 mt in two to three years.

These two phases, which will cost about Rs 7,800 crore, represent a far bigger plan than what had been initially put up in internal notes that the steel ministry had circulated. The even larger expansion programme being mulled now will mean a far higher outlay.

“What we have found from our surveys is that given the raw materials that IISCO has ' iron ore mines at Chiria in Jharkhand and collieries at Chasnalla, Jitpur and Ramnagore ' and the land that it owns, the plant capacity could easily be taken up to 4 mt in the third phase,” Nilotpal Roy, the newly-appointed managing director of the plant, told The Telegraph.

Roy, who has been associated with the turnaround story at Durgapur Steel Plant, said, “It can become an excellent composite steel plant ' the best in the eastern sector.”

Durgapur Steel Plant will be expanded into a 3 mt steel-maker and if IISCO becomes a 4 mt steel plant, the twin plants within 45 minutes drive of each other, would churn out 7 mt of steel every year.

“The original planners had a good vision when they located the plant here with its associated collieries and ore mines,” Roy said. In fact, the merger is happening because of the huge iron ore deposits at IISCO’s command.

IISCO’s Chiria mines are being eyed by virtually every steel maker ' from the Mittals to the Jindals to the Tatas ' all of whom are lobbying hard so that the Jharkhand government can take back part of the giant iron ore lease and parcel it out to them.

In the first phase, IISCO, the oldest iron and steel company in the country, will invest in a 2,000-cubic-metre blast furnace, apart from renovating two blast furnaces, each of 1,170 cubic metres. It will also set up a coke-oven battery (besides the two existing coke-oven batteries). A new sinter plant and a continuous casting plant are also in the pipeline.

The 125-year-old company was taken over by the government in 1972 and attached to SAIL as its subsidiary six years later. Since the take-over, the government has mulled over some 11 proposals to modernise IISCO’s more than 75- year-old Burnpur steel plant.

But political indifference and bureaucratic indifference put paid to virtually all of them. This will be the first time money will be spent at IISCO to modernise it and add capacity since 1958 when Sir Biren Mukherjee’s Martin & Burn management agency took an IMF loan to modernise the steelmaker.

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