Veteran trade union leader and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M.K. Pandhe on Wednesday asked the Centre to impose a ban on export of iron ore and help reduce the raw material cost by providing it to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited and other steel plants.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Problems and challenges in steel industry' organised at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant by CITU, he found fault with the government for failing to adopt a comprehensive policy on increasing steel production and consumption.

Appreciating Pandit Nehru for his vision to strengthen public sectors, he said the present policy of continuing export of raw material was very unfortunate and against the interest of the steel industry. What would happen once iron ore got exhausted, he asked. Mr. Pandhe said with a vision to raise steel production like China and Japan, India could also become a leadingplayer in world steel industry. However, he regretted that the government wanted to slowly weaken the public sector units by paving the way for their disinvestment.

Private players

Stating that the share of public sector steel producers in the market was slowly declining due to entry of more private players, he said first of all, the policy of exporting two-third iron ore produced in the country should be stopped so as to improve the economy, create new jobs and strengthen the steel industry.

Mr. Pandhe said there was time when some foreign powers felt that steel sector in India would be a sunset industry. But they were proved wrong. There was time when none came forward to provide technical know-how to India to establish steel plants though the country was into steel production much before many countries who did not know how to use steel. First the erstwhile USSR came forward and later the UK and Germany signed collaborative agreements with India. Even after several ups and downs, the steel industry of India had the potential to grown further. This year's assessment was that it would witness a 13 per cent increase in capacity. The production had stagnated in the US where as it is 600 million tonnes in China and 120 million tonnes in Japan. He said the World Bank never wanted that the public sector steel production should not grow in India. CITU-affiliated Steel Employees' Union president J. Ayodhyaram presided. RINL in-charge General Manager (works) R. Ranjan, Visakha Steel Workers' Union honorary president Ch. Narsinga Rao, general secretary D. Rama Rao, CITU district general secretary A. Ajay Sarma and others spoke.

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