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No move to shift raw materials unit: SAIL

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, Aug. 17

AT a time when the bifurcation of Eastern Railway is causing ripples in various quarters, the alleged move to shift one of the offices of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has triggered a controversy even as the steel major denied that there was any move to shift its raw materials division (RMD) from here to Rourkela.

The denial comes close on the heels of a letter written by the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention in the matter and asking SAIL to rescind its order in this respect. The letter was released to the Press on August 13.

"We are writing to the Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industry, Government of West Bengal, Mr Jawhar Sircar, stating that there is no such move,'' Mr S. Ahmed, Chief of Corporate Affairs, SAIL, told Business Line from New Delhi.

Mr S. Panighrahi, Executive Director in-charge of the RMD, described the entire episode as "miscarriage of information on an issue that has not been understood properly''.

He said that the RMD office here with its 130 employees was now trying to improve its performance catering to the increased demand for quality raw materials by the SAIL plants. Production and despatches had gone up in the April-July period.

The union leaders at the RMD, however, are not convinced by the denial on the issue of shifting of RMD. Mr Samarlal Ghosh, General Secretary of the CITU-affiliated RMD Employees Association, said that the recent transfer order issued to Mr U. Misra, another Executive Director posted at the RMD office here, betrayed the company's plans to shift the RMD headquarters.

Quoting from the transfer order dated July 17, issued by Mr Atul Srivastava, Deputy Director (Personnel), SAIL, Mr Ghosh said that the order stated that the headquarters of Mr U. Misra is being changed from Kolkata to Rourkela with immediate effect.

He opined that with Mr Panigrahi's imminent retirement, SAIL may be quietly doing the groundwork for shifting the RMD.

He said that the RMD currently had 16 mines under its control and the division was headquartered here given the fact that transportation from the city - the headquarters of two railways - was easier.

Moreover, when the RMD was set up in 1989-90, it was felt that locating it too close to any particular steel plant would be detrimental to the overall interests of SAIL.

Mr Ghosh's union is currently holding demonstrations demanding a modification of Mr Mishra's transfer order, so that the word headquarters was deleted.

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