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Baalu promises to pursue HSL revival package

Our Bureau

Visakhapatnam , July 29

THE long-awaited revival and restructuring package for the ailing Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) here - approximately of the order of Rs 750-800 crore - has been considered by the Union Cabinet once and "sent back for further improvement", according to Mr T.R. Baalu, Union Shipping Minister.

He made the announcement at a meeting in the HSL here on Friday after the keel for the construction of a 30,000 DWT bulk carrier (to be built by the HSL for the Chennai-based Goodearth Maritime Ltd) was laid by the Chief Minister, Dr Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy.

Mr Baalu said his Ministry had a strategy for getting the revival plan approved and it would be pursued vigorously. He, however, said the State Government should waive the principal amount of Rs 49 crore due by the HSL as commercial tax (sales tax). "That will further strengthen my hands in getting the package approved," he said.

The Union Government, the State Government and the employees of the HSL should work together to make the revival of the yard possible, he pleaded.

The Minister urged the Visakhapatnam port trust to widen and deepen the channel leading to the HSL so that bigger ships could be brought to the yard for repairs.

Dr Reddy said it was a red-letter day in the history of the HSL and it would be the beginning of the turnaround of the yard. "We will do everything possible to revive the HSL. The HSL owes Rs 49 crore to the State Government in the form of sales tax and with interest it would amount to nearly Rs 120 crore. Right now, we are ready to waive the interest and, if it is absolutely necessary, we will waive even the principal as suggested by Mr Baalu. But we want the revival of the HSL as soon as possible. It is our election promise and we are determined to keep it," he said.

Rear Admiral Ajit Tewari, Chairman and Managing Director of the HSL, said four 30,000 DWT carriers would be built by the yard for Goodearth Maritime. The first vessel would be delivered by June 2006. Thereafter, the three vessels would be delivered at intervals of six months each. The vessels would be built to international standards.

He said the order book position was healthy. Orders worth Rs 1,200 crore were on hand for the HSL and it was working to full capacity. He sought support for the revival of the yard.

Mr T.B Anandan, Chairman of the Goodearth Maritime, said his company had full faith in the capabilities of HSL. He urged the Union and State Governments to support and revive the yard.

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