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Kulti set to reopen

Durgapur, Dec. 22: Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan will reopen Iisco Steel Plant’s closed Kulti factory on December 25, just a year after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged off the Rs 10,000-crore modernisation programme of Iisco at Burnpur.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and state industry minister Nirupam Sen will be present. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will not attend as he has to address a public rally in Nandigram the day after.

Asansol MP Bansagopal Chowdhury said the centre would spend Rs 5,000 crore to revive the Kulti plant, of which Rs 2,000 crore had been sanctioned. The plant was closed in March 2003 because of chronic loss.

The Bengal Iron Works Company was founded in Kulti in 1870 and became Iisco’s Kulti Works in 1936 after it merged with Iisco Burnpur.

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) officials said the plant would initially produce non-ferrous steel. The casting foundry will also start working soon.

The plant will be operated by the growth division of SAIL with a new name — SAIL Growth Works, Kulti. SAIL has appointed M. Singh as executive director for the plant.

Chowdhury said at least 2,000 people would get jobs in the plant directly and indirectly. But SAIL officials said neither the SAIL board nor the steel ministry had any plans to recruit permanent workers right now. However, about 300 to 400 former employees, who opted for VRS after its shutdown, will be appointed on contract. There were about 3,000 workers before the plant was shut down. All of them were forced to take VRS.

Good demand for steel in both the national and international markets has led SAIL to plan huge expansion projects in the next few years.

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