Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) today commenced year-long celebrations titled Antaragni to commemorate the 50th year of production by its first plants with a function held at the Plenary Hall of Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. The celebrations were inaugurated by Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilisers and Steel Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan by lighting a symbolic torch to denote the first hot metal production at Rourkela Steel Plant on 3rd February 1959 and at Bhilai Steel Plant the following day. India's first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, had dedicated the two blast furnaces to the nation on the respective days.
In remembrance of the past stalwarts of SAIL, Mr. Paswan felicitated five former Chairmen of SAIL who were present on the occasion – Mr. R.P. Billimoria, Dr. K.C. Khanna, Dr. S.R. Jain, Mr. Arvind Pande and Mr. V.S. Jain. The Minister also felicitated Mr. B. Mohanty, Mr. Kailash Goyal and Mr. Gopinath Panda, three former employees of erstwhile Hindustan Steel Limited, now SAIL, who were part of iron production teams in the first two integrated steel plants. Mr. Paswan also unveiled a specially designed logo to mark the year-long celebrations and released a commemorative book pictorially archiving the 'perfect past, positive present and promising future' of SAIL. The celebrations will conclude on 3rd February 2009.
Speaking on the occasion, the Steel Minister commended the resilient spirit of the SAIL workforce that had withstood the various changes of the past five decades. Noting that the quality of SAIL steel was at par with the best in the world, he said that it was a myth that efficiency and competitiveness were attributes meant for the private sector alone. "The contribution of our public sector companies like SAIL to the national economy can be seen everywhere," he pointed out, including in the area of corporate social responsibility. Mr. Paswan urged SAIL to complete its modernisation & expansion programme on schedule in order to help take the country closer to the vision of becoming the second largest steel producer in the world.
In his address, Mr. S.K. Roongta, Chairman, SAIL, said that hot metal production at Rourkela and Bhilai "marked the beginning of steel plant operations in the public sector in independent India, thus laying the industrial base for the country as envisioned by our first Prime Minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru". Describing the contribution of "all those who went to altogether undeveloped greenfield areas and worked in most difficult conditions" as "unforgettable", he said they had been the inspiration for all SAIL employees who have helped the company to "grow steadily from a modest beginning to a position of producing over 15 million tonnes of hot metal annually today". "SAIL is determined not only to enhance volume of production but also to produce newer varieties of steel in different grades which are required for the development of the country," he added.
World-renowned flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia performed Antaragni, a special dedication to the 'fire within' the steel workforce, on the occasion.
Shri Ram Vilas Paswan unveiling the logo to commemorate the year-long celebrations. With him are: SAIL Chairman Mr. S.K. Roongta, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor (Ministry of Steel) Mr. B.S. Meena, SAIL Director (Personnel) Mr. G. Ojha and Joint Secretary (Ministry of Steel) Mr. G. Elias.