New Delhi: Former Union Steel Minister Braja Kishore Tripathy has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately curb the disinvestment of Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL), terming the decision "unfair, unjust and illogical." In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Tripathy said, "The decision of disinvestment of 100 percent shares of NINL which was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 08th January 2020 is unfair, unjust and illogical. Now this has become a case of looting of public money by using coercive power of authorities. So, it is an urgent requirement to put an immediate curb to the disinvestment process."
While pointing out that the disinvestment of NINL, being carried out by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), has been in the making since 2018, the former Union Steel Minister said that it took the government four years to invite financial bids for the steel PSU. "It is unfortunate that around after four years recently on date 23.12.21, financial bids were invited by submitting request for proposal by DIPAM on Dt:03.12.21," said Tripathy in the letter.
"To my knowledge 10 January 2022 was the date for opening of bids for declaration of H-1 bidder by DIPAM, but this has not happened yet, the reasons best known to them," he added.
The former minister expressed concerns regarding the valuation of NINL, citing news reports that have claimed that big private players have quoted a maximum price of Rs 6,700 crore for the steel PSU. "It has been widely circulated in local newspapers and also broadcast on national TV channels on 23 and 24 December 2021 that big private players bid only a maximum pittance of Rs 6,700 crore. Whereas the national property, NINL, has a captive iron ore mine worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore. Now, the concerned authorities of Govt of India (GOI) are engaged in fixing reserve/base price for NINL for way forward (in) the disinvestment process," said Tripathy.
"During my tenure in the Ministry of Steel National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) was introduced as a promoter to infuse money for the betterment of NINL," said the former minister.
The minister said that the fate of around 10,000 families hangs in the balance as the plant has stopped operating over the last two years. He suggested that the best way forward would be to get the plant started by handing it over to either NMDC or Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL). "When MMTC the managing promoter of NINL is reluctant to promote NINL, it will be best alternative to entrust NINL to either NMDC or leading steel PSU, SAIL for immediate resumption of plant production to avoid further degradation of national asset," the former minister told Modi in the letter.
"It will be reasonable and logical to start pig iron production, using iron ore from own mine. These steps will increase profitability, present steel market is also demandable, but still employees of NINL are helpless, almost two years have passed and plant production has stopped, no steps from shareholders or both Central government and state government have proved fruitful," said Tripathy.