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An inexplicable neglect

The Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) is among the prestigious steel producers of the country. It was set up with multi country collaboration with the Russians taking care of iron and steel making and the Americans supplying sophisticated rolling mills. Long products, extensively used by the construction industry, have been produced by RINL, which has capacity to produce 13,000 tonnes per day. Operations of this first port-based steel plant have been quite healthy: during 2013-14 with a turnover of Rs 13,527 crore  and a profit of Rs 366 crore.

IE has been reporting on RINL for 43 years – right from the time the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi laid the foundation stone in January 1971. I have, therefore, been deeply disturbed by the extensive damage suffered by the plant through the visitation of the cyclone Hudhud. Chief Minister Naidu told Prime Minister Modi that the damage to the plant was Rs 700 crore.  He also reported that the furnaces, cut off power by grid failures, had the molten liquid iron and steel, solidified. This would require re-building the entire furnaces anew.

I wonder why the essential step of anticipating the risk and shutting down the furnace in a planned manner was not taken. After all the meteorology   department had predicted accurately the landfall point for the cyclone at Visakhapatnam city three days earlier. The country has 107 years of experience in steel making starting with the Tatas. SAIL itself has over five decades of experience. We have thousands of steel technologists serving in India and abroad. Two of the largest global steel producers, Arcelor Mittal and Tata Corus, are owned by Indian  business tycoons.

How can the country afford such a colossal neglect?


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