Soiles Bhattacharya on Tuesday took over as the interim chairman of steel maker SAIL after incumbent S.K. Roongta superannuated.

“Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) informs that S.K. Roongta ceases to be the chairman of SAIL with effect from May 31, 2010, on attaining the age of superannuation,” the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

“Further, the company informs that Soiles Bhattacharya Director (Finance) SAIL has been given the additional charge of Chairman SAIL,” it added.

Mr. Bhattacharya is the senior most director in SAIL.

Official sources said he has been given the additional charge for a period of three months or until further orders are issued.

The Steel Ministry had to appoint an interim chairman, as there were delays in approval of State-owned BHEL’s C.S. Verma for the top job in the steel PSU. Government’s headhunter Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) had recommended Mr. Verma for the post of chairman of SAIL.

While most of the clearances for Mr. Verma were in place, his appointment was not yet confirmed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), pending which Mr. Bhattacharya has been appointed interim chairman.

Steel minister Virbhadra Singh had last month said he had already approved Mr. Verma’s name for the post of SAIL chairman and recommended the same to the ACC.

Mr. Bhattacharya assumes the responsibility of the country’s largest steel firm at a time, which analysts say could be “a very difficult time for the steel industry”, which is hit by rising prices of raw material like iron ore and coking coal and slackening demand ahead of the monsoon.

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