Ircon International, which is executing various rail projects entrusted by the ministry of railways, has been rapped by the steel ministry for ‘flouting’ a government policy that seeks to protect domestic steel firms from cheaper imports.
Under the Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products (DMI&SP) policy, government agencies are mandated to use local steel in preference to imports to encourage domestic manufacturing. A waiver is granted by the ministry of steel when the product required is not available, domestically.
Hard-pressed to meet deadline of commissioning of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula section, Ircon placed an order with an Austrian company for 2,100 tonne head-hardened rail for Banihal-Arpinchala section of the project, apparently without seeking the waiver. Ircon will issue tender for the balance requirement of 4,900 tonne next year.
“The global tender by Ircon and placement of order of 1080 (hard hardened) without waiver from MoS has gone against the very spirit of this (DMI&SP) policy (which is approved by the Union Cabinet) and was viewed with concern by the standing committee,” reads the minutes of a meeting of the standing committee, headed by the steel secretary, held on July 12.
The standing committee overseas the implementation of the policy. “Ircon stated that for the balance quantity of 4,900 tonne, which will be required next year, they will seek exemption,” it said.
The committee has asked SAIL to start producing hard hardened rails and other Indian manufacturer to gear up qualifying the tender criteria.