Companies

Dismantling of SAIL RMD to jeopardize 14,400 jobs: Amit Mitra

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 16, 2021

The decision will resuly in job loss of contractual employees at the RMD

The dismantling of the Kolkata-based Raw Materials Division (RMD) of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) will lead to job losses for scores of contractual employees and could turn the public-sector steelmaker’s Durgapur and Burnpur plants unviable, West Bengal’s Finance Minister Amit Mitra has said.

In a letter to Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, the West Bengal Finance Minister Mitra said, “It appears to me that there is a rather devious intent of undermining these two iconic steel plants in Bengal. By dismantling the RMD of SAIL headquartered in Kolkata and on top of that, not providing any captive mines to Durgapur and Bumpur, these two massive steel plants, employing 14,400 workers, would soon be in dire state.”

The dismantling will result in the job loss of scores of contractual employees at the RMD in the midst of this Covid pandemic, the letter said. “Over hundred permanent employees working in RMD, Kolkata, will face total destabilization of their families, their spouses and their children, with imminent transfer, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.

Further, the Durgapur and Burnpur Integrated Steel Plants in West Bengal would be left with no captive mines, nor would they get supplies of iron ore, Mitra said. “Apparently, the 15 iron ore mines, flux mines and collieries ran by the RMD would now be entirely allocated to Rourkela and Bokaro Steel Plants, where Odisha mines will be allocated to Rourkela and Jharkhand mines will be allocated to Bokaro.”

Durgapur and Burnpur

Such allocations will leave the Durgapur and Burnpur Integrated Steel Plants in the lurch to procure their raw materials from the open market or remain at the mercy of Rourkela and Bokaro to provide them raw materials, if they so desire, Mitra added.

The RMD has been supplying fines to Durgapur and Burnpur plants at a price of ₹650 per tonne. If forced to procure the raw material from the market, the plants would be required to shell out ₹9,500 per tonne, the letter said. By throwing Durgapur and Burnpur into the open market, these plants would be rendered uncompetitive. And, over time, these plants would become cost-inefficient, unprofitable and unviable, he said.

“I am deeply apprehensive that these two massive plants in Bengal would either be asset stripped or be sold off in the name of disinvestment, having crippled them through the current policy shift,” Mitra said. The Durgapur and Burnpur plants were SAIL’s fourth and fifth most profitable plants in the financial year 2021, yielding an annual profit of ₹1,486 crore.

When the Workers’ Unions of SAIL met with the top management in Delhi in Ispat Bhavan, they were informally told that Chairperson Soma Mondal “would not be able to do anything about the dismantling of RMD and non-allocation of mines to Durgapur and Burnpur, because the Steel Minister himself, is behind this unfortunate strategic decision,” Mitra said, urging Pradhan to stop the dismantling of the RMD.

Published on June 16, 2021

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