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SAIL expansion to benefit Bengal most

Kulti, Dec. 25: Bengal is going to be the biggest beneficiary of the mega expansion programme being undertaken by public sector behemoth Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).

The company will make 38 per cent of its planned investments in the state.

Of the total investment outlay of Rs 53,000 crore, SAIL will invest Rs 20,000 crore in Bengal, steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today.

He was speaking at the reopening of the Kulti Works, which has been renamed SAIL Growth Works. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi also attended the function.

Exactly a year back, Paswan had flagged off SAIL’s biggest investment in the state — the modernisation and expansion of IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur — in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The budgeted investment at IISCO Steel Plant was Rs 9,600 crore then. Today, Paswan said the number had gone up by Rs 4,000 crore.

S.K. Roongta, chairman of SAIL, said the company’s production in the state would go up by 125 per cent.

It will make 6.41 million tonnes (mt) of hot metal in the state compared with 2.84mt now.

Apart from IISCO Steel Plant, Durgapur Steel Plant would get around Rs 5,500 crore. The Alloy Steels Plant in Durgapur has also attracted investments of close to Rs 1,000 crore.

However, the SAIL management did not disclose the amount of investment in the Kulti facility. When SAIL completes its expansion plan in 2010-11, saleable steel production in the state will be in the region of 5.63mt.

Paswan said that SAIL would soon acquire the National Iron and Steel Company, a Bengal government undertaking at Belur near Howrah. “We have sought co-operation from the state government on this,” he said.

However, the success of much of SAIL’s plan to make 26mt of steel from the present level of 13mt will depend on its ability to get raw materials such as iron ore and coal.

The company is involved in a legal battle with the Jharkhand government for control of Chiria mines, whose high quality iron ore reserves are the biggest in India.

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