Our Bureau

Kolkata, July 21

THERE'S no let-up in rail movement of iron ore, either for domestic consumption or for exports, despite reports of cooling of the steel sector. If anything, the movement of ore to public sector steel plants has gone up.

Railways sources said that the ore movement to plants under SAIL was up by 22 per cent in June compared to the same period last year.

But the sources also conceded that the comparison with last year is not appropriate because then the ore requirement was low because of the drop in production in the wake of the non-availability of coal. The current rise, therefore, is on a smaller base.

There has been no drop in movement of ore to ports for exports either, the sources added.

Thus, South Eastern Railway (SER), the largest ore-loading zonal railway, continues to load as before. "Every day we load about 40 ore rakes, including 6-7 rakes for exports through Haldia, Paradip, and Visakhapatnam ports," said a spokesman for SER.

He added that there has been a reduction in the number of pending iron ore rakes for which requisitions have been submitted by non-premium customers.

At one point, the pending figure was for as many as 30,000 rakes. The figure has dropped a little since then following cancellations for 2,000 rakes. "The cancellations, however, have not changed the overall situation materially."

In keeping with the trend every year, rail movement of coal has been hit during this monsoon too, though not significantly.

Between the peak and non-peak seasons, the dip is estimated at around four per cent in respect coal. All commodities taken together, the dip will be around two per cent on an average, they said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 22, 2005)
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