State-run Steel Authority of India today said its Rs 72,000-crore capacity expansion programme is more or less on schedule except for the Burnpur project which is facing delay of more than one year.
"But for Burnpur, in all other places, expansion by and large is in time," SAIL Chairman C S Verma told PTI in an interview.
"As Burnpur is concerned, there could not be any second opinion. Burnpur is delayed more than a year. The delay is due to unexpected molten debris at the plant site, which expanded the scope of work of the project," Verma said. The debris could not be found when soil testing was done at the 100-year old site, he added.
The delay has also led to Rs 2,000-crore cost overrun for the company which would now have to fork out Rs 16,408 crore for increasing the plant capacity by three million tonnes per annum (mtpa).
SAIL had embarked on a Rs 72,000-crore expansion plan in 2009 to increase capacity to 23.46 mtpa from 13.82 mtpa now by March, 2013.
Expansions are being carried in all its five integrated facilities and three alloy steel making facility.
Recently Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma had criticised SAIL for delay in expansions.
"The original plan was to complete all the expansions by March, 2013. However, this may not happen. There could a few months here and there. If you compare our expansion with RINL and other private sector companies, we are far ahead of. In all our plants, people are working in three shifts to complete the expansions," the SAIL Chairman Verma said.
SAIL has already placed orders worth Rs 59,000 crore and and has spent over Rs 38,500 crore for expansion.
The plan also includes Rs 10,500 crore expense on mines. However, it could not spend Rs 5,000 crore ear marked for Rowghat mine development in Chhattisgarh due to naxalite problem.
"Now, we are at very advanced stages of completion of the modernisation plan. In the current fiscal year itself, we are going to commission two large size blast furnaces, out of the proposed three. It will take our capacity to 19 mtpa," the SAIL Chairman said.
He said his top-most priority now is to ensure that the modernaisation plan is completed as fast possible so that the company reaps the benefit of these investments from a demand-hungry market.