Modernisation of steel plants top priority: Minister


Shimla : Expansion and modernisation of state-run steel plants to double their output are among the top priorities of the government, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh said here Friday.

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“Our main priority is to expand and modernise the state-run steel plants so that their capacity would be doubled,” he told reporters here.

This was Singh’s first visit to his home town after his induction into the union cabinet last month.

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), the two state-run behemoths, have major expansion plans.

Regarding disinvestment of stake in companies under his ministry, Singh said: “We are considering disinvestment in the public sector. But the policy of disinvestment has to get the cabinet approval first.”

The former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, however, refused to name the companies that could be considered for disinvestment.

Expressing concern over rising steel prices, he said: “So far, the situation is not so alarming. But I cautioned steel companies against unilaterally raising prices.”

He further promised to set up a new steel processing unit in Himachal Pradesh, where he has served as chief minister five times.

“I have asked SAIL officials to conduct surveys so that its second steel processing plant in the the state could come up near Nahan in Sirmaur district.”

SAIL’s first steel plant in the state is coming up in Kangra district.

The former chief minister reiterated his promise to get the state industrial package extended till 2013. The current industrial package will expire in 2010.