The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two more struck off divestment list

New Delhi, May 29: Manganese Ore India Limited (MOIL) and Sponge Iron India Limited (SIIL) would not be put on the block, steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

“Our government has decided that profit-making companies will not be sold. Last year, MOIL and SIIL have posted a profit of Rs 28.52 crore and Rs 31 crore, respectively. The companies supply essential raw materials to the iron and steel industry,” Paswan said. He will also review whether certain units of SAIL, identified for privatisation earlier, should be sold.

To deal with rising coking coal prices and supply shortage, the minister has asked public sector steel producers to scout for mines abroad. Paswan will ask coal minister Shibu Soren to depute a senior official from the ministry to work on this.

“We have asked the public sector units to secure mines wherever possible, including overseas locations. We need to reduce dependence on external sources for coking coal supplies,” Paswan said.

The minister said the rise in input prices during the past few months was largely due to the lack of domestic supply combined with a global shortage of good quality coking coal.

At present, SAIL uses 13 million tonnes of coking coal annually, of which 4 million tonnes are procured in India while the rest is imported.

The ministry will seek the steel industry’s opinion on the restoration of duty drawback for steel exports that was stopped earlier this year in a bid to discourage exports and check rising domestic prices.

The ministry is also trying to revive the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company, which is on the verge of closure. The case is pending before the Supreme Court and if the company is sold, there is a plan to absorb 12,000 employees into other mines, he said.

Hindustan Antibiotics, which is not a profit-making concern, will also be kept out of the divestment list. “With very modest funding, the company can generate profits,” Paswan said.

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