Durgapur Steel Plant – inaugural history

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President Dr. Rajendra Prasad pulling the lever to mark the inauguration of Durgapur Steel Plant

Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) located in Durgapur is one of the five integrated steel plants under the Maharatna PSU Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). This particular steel manufacturing unit of SAIL gave Durgapur a distinct identity for which it is popularly called the Steel City.

Though there are large assortments of industries in Durgapur at present, but there is no denying the fact that Durgapur rose to prominence only after DSP was set up in late 50’s. And till now DSP stands as the largest industrial unit in Bengal.

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President Dr. Rajendra Prasad pulling the lever to mark the inauguration of Durgapur Steel Plant

The inaugural history of Durgapur Steel Plant is unique in the sense that it was the only steel plant of modern era to have born without a feasibility study or detailed project report. Sir Eric Coates’ recommendation became the feasibility report. Vendor catalogues and offers papered together as part of Coates’ report served as the detailed project report.

A team of Colombo Plan (an aid programme for Commonwealth countries), under the chairmanship of Sir Eric Coates, surveyed four sites in Eastern India, two near Sindri, one near the present Bokaro and Durgapur on the river Damodar.

The team zeroed in on Durgapur, thanks to the vision of Dr. B C Roy, the then West Bengal Chief Minister and the robust rapport he enjoyed with Jawaharlal Nehru.

Indian Steel Consortium (ISCON) with assistance from United Kingdom was assigned the job of setting up the steel plant at Durgapur with initial annual capacity of one million tonnes of crude steel per year.
Inauguration

It was on 26 December, 1959; President Dr. Rajendra Prasad symbolically pushed a lever that started a loud siren and marked the inauguration of production in DSP. Hot metal flowed out of blast furnace No. 1 (Sharada Devi). A group of engineers and workmen, including S R Mitra, C S N Raju, Y S Bhat, M F Mehta, P G lyengar and C R Srinivasan, saw the lava flowing out, clapped and wiped their tears of joy.

Other dignitaries present at the inaugural function included Minister of Steel and Industries, Swaran Singh, British High Commissioner Mac-Donald, Steel Secretary S Bhoothalingam, West Bengal Governor Padmaja Naidu, Hindustan Steel Chairman G Pande, General Manager, K Sen and several Indian Steel Consortium (ISCON) representatives.

At the inauguration ceremony President Dr. Rajendra Prasad read out a rather uninspiring speech. The crowd consisted mostly of construction workers, people from nearby villages, the British technicians and a small number of Durgapur Steel employees.

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