Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), on Friday, signed a joint venture agreement with Burn Standard Company Limited (BSCL), a unit under Indian Railways, for setting up a wagon components manufacturing facility at Jellingham in West Bengal's Purba Medinipore district.

SAIL Chairman C. S. Verma told reporters that the outlay on this unit would be about Rs.200 crore. Given the state's supportive and positive environment, SAIL, however, was keen to increase its investments here.

Special steel unit

It would like to set up a special steel unit in West Bengal, where it already has investments of over Rs.20,000 crore under implementation. The joint venture unit would have a capacity to produce 10,000 bogies and 10,000 couplers per annum.

The agreement for the new joint venture was signed in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Railways Minister Mukul Roy, the SAIL Chairman and Railway Board Member (Mechanical) Keshav Chandra.

Ms. Banerjee urged that the joint venture's implementation schedule be advanced by a year to 2013, as it would lead to the area's overall development. She said that she had announced the project in her 2010 budget speech and Railways had assured annual offtake for 5,000 units.

“It is praiseworthy that SAIL is investing Rs. 21,000 crore in Durgapur and Burnpur”, she said.

She also said that all the RAIL projects announced for West Bengal were progressing well. “ This should silence the Doubting Thomases”, she said.

Mr. Chandra said that the project assumed special significance considering the fact that bogies and couplers were in short supply.

Mr. Verma said that SAIL was keen to explore the opportunity to set up a special steel unit in Kulti near Asansol in West Bengal which would make high-end applications.

Modernisation

SAIL will take its hot metal capacity to 19 million tonnes by March 2013 from 14 million tonnes, as its massive modernisation programme makes headway.

Mr. Verma said the Rs.72,000-crore modernisation programme was a unique one. He said orders had been placed for Rs.58,000 crore.

To a query on delays in the modernisation plan, he said, “It was a unique programme and expectations have been high”.

He said the implementation of the 2.5-million tonne greenfield project at Burnpur (the erstwhile Indian Iron and Steel Plant) had run into some delays but would now get implemented in an integrated manner by March 2013 (instead of June 2012), at an investment of Rs.16,000 crore. This is the timeline for the completion of the Rs.3,000 crore modernisation programme of Durgapur steel plant also.