Chairman of Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL). Naveen Jindal, visited the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) last week, along with son Venkatesh and top JSPL officials. The flagship of the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), BSP had been Jindal's main rival in rail supplies to the Indian Railways.
The BSP management accorded a rousing reception to the JSPL team, a move that invited criticism from sections of the public sector unit's workforce. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anirban Dasgupta along with top officials accompanied Jindal and his team to inspect different facilities in the plant.
The visit of JSPL team sparked off debate among the workers and trade union, with many linking it to the possible privatisation of SAIL’s highest profit-making unit.
BSP had been the sole supplier of rails to the Indian Railways and had its monopoly. But over the years, JSPL had been eyeing at its orders. It had succeeded in bagging and order from Iran apart from getting an entry into besides Indian Railways, which had awarded it an order after BSP allegedly failed to supply the required quantity. JSPL had to supply 100,000 tonnes of rails to Indian Railways after winning a global tender.
The BSP management played down the event. “It was a normal visit,” a company spokesperson said. Jindal witnessed the processes of rail production and rail loading while visiting the Universal Rail Mill equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the spokesperson said, adding that there were discussions on mutual sharing of knowledge and experience in order to enhance steel production and productivity.
A JSPL spokesperson said Jindal and his son had come to Bhilai for a private function and took time to visit the BSP. “The rumour of BSP privatisation and JSPL’s interest in it has no logic,” he added.
Officials accompanying the team said Naveen Jindal briefed son Venkatesh minutely about the machines and methods of steel production. Interestingly, when Naveen Jindal took over the steel business, he visited BSP and acquainted with the process.