Kalinganagar steel plant to become operational by March

Jamshedpur: Tata Steel’s Kalinganagar Plant in Jajpur district will be fully operational by March 2016, informed Tata Steel Managing Director (India and South East Asia) T V Narendran in Jamshedpur yesterday.

The Sinter plant is already operational and the blast furnace will come on stream soon. The steel plant will become operational in the next 10-15 days, he said.

It may be recalled that Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had dedicated Tata Steel’s Kalinganagar steel plant to the nation on November 18. The steel plant, the largest single-location steel project in the country, would produce flat, lighter high-tensile strength steel for heavy industries sectors like ship-building, defence equipment, energy and power, infrastructure building, aviation and lifting and excavation in the first phase.

Sharing his outlook on the Steel sector, Narendran said the government’s focus on infrastructure and urbanization would boost the demand for steel, which is currently low in the country.

India has the capability to grow by 7 to 8 per cent and the demand for steel in the country is poised to grow as the market demand is positive due to government initiatives to invest in infrastructure, airport, road and urbanisation plans like smart cities, Narendran added.

However,he admitted that the steel sector is in doldrums across the globe including China and the situation has come to such an extent that many companies in the sector across the world are unable to pay salaries to their employees, while most others are losing money.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion of New Year, Narendran said the prices of steel have come down to 2003 levels, but claimed that Tata Steel continued to perform well despite the sluggish conditions and has remained profitable.

“Prices of steel are not in our hand. It is because of the commitment of our employees, who worked hard to achieve the target, that we have remained profitable. But the situation has affected the margins of profit,” he said.

Tata Steel has continued to produce at low cost like the Russian steel sector, which was at an advantage due to appreciation in their currency.

Besides India, the demand of steel is certain to grow in South East Asia, Mexico and Turkey, he said and advocated a level playing field to face the issue of dumping from countries with surplus capacity like China, Korea and Japan and compete with world players in the sector.

The government, Narendran said, had proposed a safeguard duty of 20 per cent to face dumping when prices of steel were USD 380.

However,the prices came down to USD 340 when the duty was approved and USD 260 when it was implemented, thus affecting profit margins.

Referring to the issue of level playing field, he said Tata Steel has invested Rs 40,000 crore, including in Kalinganagar project in Odisha, during the past few years and its management would certainly want support from the government to face challenges from world players.

“We are not scared to compete with world players,” Narendran said and referred to dumping by China, which, he said, hindered generation of employment opportunities in the country.

(With PTI inputs)