In a bid to retain its monopoly in rail making capabilities, the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) — a flagship unit of the public sector SAIL — is embarking on a major capacity expansion and modernisation project. The 3.5 million tonne (MT) expansion plan is estimated to cost Rs 11,262 crore and would increase the total installed capacity of the plant to 7.5 million tonne from 4 million tonne at the moment.
“The BSP would continue to maintain its supremacy in rail making capabilities,” Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told HT while laid the foundation stone of the project in Bhilai.
With capabilities enhanced to produce rails in rolled length of 80 metre and welded panels up to 260 metre with its modern state-of-the-art technology, BSP has become the first in the country to produce long rails for the Indian Railways in 130-metre and 260-metre lengths.
To continue its domination in rail-making expertise, a new 1.2 million tonne universal rail mill would be installed as part of the the new expansion project.
Bhilai to its credit produces the ‘cleanest rail steel’ in the world with hydrogen content that is lower than 1.5 parts per million (ppm). A producer of both long and flat steel, Bhilai remains the sole supplier of rails to the railways since last four decades. The plant annually supplies around 8 lakh tonne of rail of various lengths to the railways, besides providing rails to eight other countries.
Under the expansion programme, the long product category would also be strengthened with a 0.9 million tonne new bar and rod mill and a 1.2 million tonne Universal Beam Mill, which would produce beams upto 1 metre depth that would be the only one of its kind in India. The additional capabilities would be added simultaneously, while existing facilities would be upgraded to ensure higher production of value-added steel.
BSP, which was inaugurated on February 4, 1959, is now in its Golden Jubilee year. Paswan also expressed concern over the recent hike in the prices of steel. “The profit of SAIL stands at Rs 16,000 crore”, he said. He also expressed concern over the fact that the production of steel has only increased by 7 per cent, while consumption has gone up to 12 per cent in India.
The steel ministry is likely to assess the rise in input costs for steel production to examine the justification of the rise in steel prices during the meeting of steel producers to be held on February 15. The minister reiterated that India would be the number two stel producer in 2015. “The target for domestic steel production has been revised to 100 million tonne by 2010, which would go up to 200 million tonne by 2020,” he said.