India advances 124 mn steel output target by eight years (Lead)February 3rd, 2009 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Despite a demand slowdown for steel during the current fiscal, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan Tuesday said the target of producing 124 million tonnes of the commodity in the country annually was being advanced by eight years.”The country aims to produce 124 million tonnes of steel annually by 2012 compared with the earlier target of 2020,” Paswan told the golden jubilee celebrations of the state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) here.
The country’s current capacity tops 55 million tonnes.
The ceremony also saw the employees of the state-run firm receive a glittering bonanza. The minister said 125,000 of its employees will get eight grams of gold as a reward for their toil at a cost of Rs.140 crore (Rs.1.4 billion).
“I will like to say that the announcement of the gift was made by me an year ago to reward the hard work of employees,” the minister said, allaying fears that this reward may be shelved due to the 56 percent drop in the company’s third quarter profits.
Paswan, along with his deputy Jitin Prasada and Minister of State for Communications Jyotiraditya Scindia, also released a postage stamp to mark the occasion.
Earlier, SAIL chairman S.K. Roongta said that even though the demand for the commodity was picking up in the country and reach normal levels by March, the company was likely to miss its target of selling 13 million tonnes.
“We may fall slightly short of that,” he said.
Recalling the 50-year journey of SAIL, Paswan said it was on this day in 1959 that the country’s first president late Rajendra Prasad heated the first blast furnace of the company’s Rourkela Steel Plant in Orissa.
Today, the unprecedented modernisation and expansion of the company has taken its output to 13 million tonnes with plans to double it to 26 million tonnes by 2012, he said. In the process, India has emerged as the fifth largest steel producer in the world and will soon achieve the global norms of production.
Scindia praised SAIL for taking the initiative in spending 2 percent of its profit in such areas as healthcare, education and flood relief as a part of its corporate social responsibility.
“The postage stamp released today will carry the story of the success of SAIL across the globe,” the young minister said.