In the year to March 31, 2002, SAIL reported a loss of Rs 1,707 crore, dragged down by RSP (loss: Rs 646 crore), Durgapur (loss: Rs 119 crore), Alloy Steels (loss: Rs 120 crore), Salem (loss: Rs 72 crore), VISL (loss: Rs 85 crore) and others (loss: Rs 15 crore).
However, Bhilai and Bokaro plants reported profits of Rs 813 crore and Rs 70 crore respectively. After falling into the red with a loss of Rs 1,618 crore in 1998-99, due to depreciation and modernisation costs, SAIL was trying to come back into the black.
The Orissa-based RSP has suffered from poor labour productivity and ranks last among all the four integrated steel plants of SAIL. However, productivity has increased over the past few months.
Not that SAILs turnaround depends totally on Rourkela. Three other integrated steel plants Bhilai, Bokaro and Durgapur also need to improve their performance.
However, a lot would depend on Rourkela, explained a senior official of the government-owned steel major.
SAIL chairman (New) VS Jain, who has taken over the charge from October 1 and has just visited Rourkela, believes that the plant is already showing signs of recovery and has the potential to improve in terms of production volume, quality of the products and techno-economics.
During April-September of the current fiscal, RSP increased hot metal production to 8,00,938 tonne, a growth of 19 per cent on the figure for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
Production of saleable steel increased by 14 per cent to 7,21,432 tonne and concast slab by 15 per cent to 7,05,406 tonne. Despatch of saleable steel, too, has gone up to 7,20,188 tonne, the best ever first half performance by the steel plant.
This type of growth in first-half has been possible with full cooperation of the employees, Mr Jain told FE.