New Delhi: The Steel Executives Federation of India (SEFI), which comprises of employees from steel PSUs like SAIL, MECON, RINL and NINL, has written a letter to Union Minister for Steel Dharmendra Pradhan, urging him to consider merging Odisha-based Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL) with either SAIL or RINL. PSU Watch has earlier reported that the government had planned to privatise NINL, however, in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the impact it has had on the steel sector, the Centre's privatisation plan may take time to see fruition. And in the meanwhile, time is of the essence for NINL as the company is in a dilapidated financial state — it has shut down the operation of its plant completely since March and has not paid its employees for the last six months.
The trade unions and employee associations at NINL have been demanding the Centre to consider the merger of the Odisha-based PSU with one of the PSUs in the steel sector. However, the Centre is yet to take a call on the matter and an inter-ministerial meeting to decide the fate of NINL is set to take place on August 13.
Making a case for the merger of NINL with SAIL or RINL, SEFI argued that a strategic partnership with steel PSUs would be a step towards fulfilling the Centre's objective of a single-state owned steel producer to bring efficiency, productivity and profitability. "To achieve SAIL's capacity expansion (target 50 MTPA by 2030) or RINL (target 16 MTPA by 2030), SAIL/RINL need not go for land acquisition for capacity expansion. NINL has 2,500 acre undisputed land sufficient for expansion up to 10 MTPA," said the letter.
"With state-of-the-art technology plant and machinery, rich grade of captive iron ore mines, optimised trained and qualified workforce /employees and suitable infrastructure, NINL is confident of yielding substantial revenue," it added.
In a separate letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Confederation of Officers' Associations (NCOA) urged the PM to consider merging NINL with a steel PSU, arguing that it will allow SAIL or RINL or NMDC access to raw materials from the mines owned by NINL and it will also allow investment in NINL's future modernisation and expansion plans.
"After the decision of disinvestment taken by the Central government, severe liquidity crunch has compelled suspension of production of blast furnace, SMS & Sinter plant from July 2019. Production of Coke oven stopped on 30.03.2020 during COVID-19 lockdown period due to scarcity of raw material (coking coal)… For no fault of the employees they are being deprived of getting their salaries/remunerations for past five months," the NCOA said in the letter.
NINL is a 1.1 Million Tonne integrated iron and steel plant at Kalinganagar in Odisha. Its shareholders include MMTC Ltd, IPICOL and OMC, NMDC Ltd, MECON, BHEL and banks and financial institutions. MMTC has 49.78 percent share in NINL and the share of Odisha Govt is 32.47 percent.
It has its own mines of 874.29 hectares with 110 million tons of estimated reserve. Mining Lease has been granted for 50 years but the mines are yet to be operationalised. NINL is the largest exporter of pig iron since 2004-05. It also produces fertilizer under "Kamdhenu" brand.
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