Pending completion of the Rs. 16,000-crore modernisation and expansion project of the IISCO Steel Plant (ISP) of Steel Authority of India Ltd, it has been decided that units, which are now ready, will be commissioned and their products would either be sold in the market or to other SAIL units.

At least five packages are ready for commissioning between January and March 2013.

The project is one of the single-largest investments in this part of the country.

While the ore handling plant has already been commissioned and the sinter plant is ready, the coke oven battery and the wire rod mill are expected to be commissioned shortly.

It has now been decided that instead of leaving the ready plants idle, they would be commissioned and IISCO would go for merchant-sales of some of the products (wire mill) and ‘sell’ other products ( coke oven, sinter plant) to its sister units such as Durgapur Steel and Bokaro Steel.

The blast furnace, which is the biggest of its kind in the country with a daily capacity of 8000 tonnes, is also ready and will give a 2.5 million tonne output against the less than million tonnes being produced at the old unit.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the project’s foundation stone in December 2006 after IISCO’s merger with SAIL, paving the way for the resurrection of one of Asia’s first and finest steel plants.

However for the Rs. 9600 crore project, costs zoomed. According to ISP’s chief executive officer, Narendra Kothari, this happened as it was an estimate which increased as detailed engineering and tendering got underway.

Adverse soil conditions, wherein slag and ‘steel boulders’ found at the work site, delayed the project by over two years as trenches had be dug during the piling. Dispute over a small plot of land within the 900-acre project area, over the relocation of a village deity, added to ISP’s woes.

Mr Kothari, however, is unwilling to dwell on the past, and is looking at setting a date for completion of the project. He has set his eyes on mid-2013-14 for completion saying that nearly Rs.14,000 crore has already been spent.

More In: Companies | Business