Durgapur News Desk, 15 December 2016: Ray of hope glimmers for the people of Durgapur as the Union Steel Minister, Chaudhury Birendra Singh, gave assurances to representatives of CITU and INTUC who are in a joint movement opposing Central Government’s nod to sell three units of the Maharatna PSU, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), including the Durgapur-based Alloy Steels Plant (ASP). The minister not only did gave a patient hearing to the team of labour union representatives but also said that he will consult experts and would get back to them in 15 days to update them of the entire situation.
The team was led by CITU, All India general secretary and member of parliament Mr. Tapan Sen. The team included Durgapur (East) state legislative assembly member Mr. Santosh Deb Roy, Congress parliamentarian Mr. Pradip Bhattacharjee, Steel Worker’s Federation of India general secretary Mr. P K Das and former MP of Durgapur Mr. Sunil Khan. Biswarup Bandopadhyay and Bijoy Saha represented CITU from Durgapur Steel Plant unit and Alloy Steels Plant respectively. Whereas Biswajit Biswas and Bikash Ghatak represented INTUC from DSP and ASP respectively.
At the end of last month, in a regulatory filing, SAIL disclosed that the Government of India, Ministry of Steel, has communicated the ‘in-principle’ approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for strategic disinvestment of the three SAIL units of Durgapur, Salem and Bhadravati. SAIL further said: “Disinvestment of these units shall be to strategic buyer(s) to be identified through two-stage auction process as recommended by the Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment.
One might remember that in the last week of September this year, Niti Ayog’s list of 22 public sector companies in which the government aims at reducing government ownership to below 51 per cent has name of the Durgapur-based Alloy Steels Pant.
The representative team explained to the steel minister as to why selling ASP, Durgapur which in recent years has emerged as a key producer of special steels for the country’s strategic sectors like Defence & Railways among others would be suicidal for the sovereignty and security of the country.
The representative team also opposed SAIL’s policy of outsourcing and pressed upon the need of capacity augmentation for the SAIL unit of Durgapur Steel Plant. The steel minister was also updated about the fact that in today’s sorry state of affairs for the steel sector, DSP unit of SAIL has been fighting to keep themselves afloat with only 23% of finished product.
While giving his comment about the meeting Biswarup Bandopadhyay of CITU’s DSP unit sounded positive because of the fact that the steel minister gave a patient hearing and tried to get into the concern of the representative team. The fact that the minister himself assured the team of a further meeting in two weeks made the team to believe that something positive may come out.