New Delhi: Dismayed by the delay in the implementation of the decision to restart the plant operations fully, Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL) executives association has sought intervention from the company's diverse board of directors and has called for quick decision-making on their part to ensure that operations at the plant start at the earliest. In a letter dated March 11, Ajit Pradhan, General Secretary of Neelanchal Executives' Association, said, "… if a long term contract is made with any potential buyer of 10 lakh tonne of iron ore such as SAIL/RINL/NMDC/OMC then plant production could be started with the advance payment which can save the livelihood of employees as well as contractual workers."
The letter comes just days after the Ministry of Mines accepted NINL's request to allow it to sell 50 percent of iron ore or an additional 1.5 million tonne (MT). Previously, the ministry had allowed NINL to sell 25 percent of iron ore, which amounted to 0.5 MT, for clearing the dues of its employees. However, since the amount was too less in comparison to the salary dues accumulated since February last year, NINL had requested the ministry to increase the limit to 50 percent.
Making the case for a quick restart of all operations at the plant, Pradhan said, "Any delay in restarting the production and sale will lead to loss of revenue to state and Central Government and will affect the livelihood of 5,000 employees as well as the other beneficiaries." The NINL executives' association leader also urged the government to reconsider its decision to disinvest the integrated steel plant and instead consider merging it with either Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) or Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) or National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC).
Speaking to PSU Watch, Pradhan said that since February 2020, payments for two months have been cleared by the management for NINL employees so far. "At present the IR situation at the plant site Duburi has become extremely volatile due to non-payment of salary and wages for the last one year and demonstrations are being staged by different unions in and around the plant site there," added Pradhan.
The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management floated a preliminary information memorandum for the disinvestment of NINL on January 25. In a New Year's message addressed to employees, NINL's new Managing Director RK Jha had said that one of the initiatives to improve the cash flow situation of the company would be to restart the blast furnace, which has been shut down since March 2020 as the company has been facing severe financial crunch since the Cabinet approved its disinvestment in January 2020.
NINL has a complex shareholding pattern with MMTC holding 49.78 percent share and the Odisha government at 32.47 percent. The rest of the shares are held by NMDC Ltd, IDBI Bank, MECON, BHEL and Odisha PSUs IPICOL and OMC.
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