5 Sep :The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, laid the foundation stone of the expansion project of the Salem Steel Plant in Tamil Nadu today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:
“ I am truly delighted to be here once again in this great and beautiful State of Tamilnadu. It is a pleasure and privilege to be here today along with our respected leaders, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi. Both of them are the architects of the United Progressive Alliance which has provided a result oriented and progressive government to the people of India during the past four years. This is a special day for Tamilnadu, and a very special day for the workers and employees of the Salem Steel Plant. My greetings to you all!
Thirty eight years ago, in September 1970, the foundation stone of this plant was laid by our beloved leader, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in the presence of Thiru Karunanidhiji. Today we are fortunate to have him here once again. We are also fortunate to have Soniaji with us here. I know I speak for all those who are present here when I pay my deepest respects and highest tribute to the memory of Late Indiraji. She loved the people of Tamilnadu and had the highest regard for the ancient culture and the modern mind of the Tamil people. On an occasion like this, I recall with gratitude the contribution made by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the industrialization of India and in particular to the development of India’s steel industry.
Tamilnadu has emerged as a major industrial hub of our country. Some call it the “Detroit of India” because of the number of automobile companies now based here. I call it the industrial and knowledge powerhouse of India. Tamilnadu is unique. It is an important agricultural state. A rice bowl. An important industrial state. And an important centre of our knowledge economy. The people of Tamilnadu have demonstrated to the world their creativity, their enterprise, their dedication and commitment to work and their deep patriotism and commitment to the overall progress and development of our country.
I am proud to be standing here on this sacred soil of one of the greatest “temples of modern India”. Today we are here to launch a new phase in the modernization and development of our steel industry. On this happy occasion, I congratulate SAIL and the people of Salem. This project is designed to produce high quality stainless steel that will be used both for home appliances and for industrial usage. The present expansion project for the installation of steel melting facilities along with other facilities will help make the Salem plant a truly integrated steel plant. These investments will create new opportunities for growth of employment for the young people of Salem and the surrounding areas.
The rising prominence of our steel industry on the world’s steel landscape also mirrors the emergence of our country as a leading economic power in the world. From small beginning, India has now become the fifth largest producer of steel in the world. If present trends continue we will become the second largest producer in the world by the year 2015. We have indeed come a long way from our modest beginnings. But we have much more to do and a long distance yet to be travelled. A lot of hard work and enterprise is needed for us to meet our rising steel demand and catch up with other industrial giants in the world. Our steel companies have to operate on the frontiers of technology, managerial excellence and high productivity.
In the Eleventh Five Year Plan Period we expect the economy to grow at around 9.0% per year. To ensure that this growth process is not inflationary, we must step up productivity and increase output. In the last few months, because of the steep increase in the international prices of petroleum products and primary commodities, inflation and its control have emerged as major concerns of policy. We have taken steps to moderate the rise in prices. In so doing, we have also tried to ensure that inflation control measures do not hurt the growth momentum we have built up during the last four years.
To ensure non-inflationary growth we must step up production in all sectors. In agriculture, in manufacturing and in services. We still have to go a long way in creating the infrastructure essential for modernizing India. Ready availability of steel products is a key requirement for such infrastructure. Our per capita consumption of steel is still very low in comparison to other industrial and industrializing countries. Yet, we are today in a seller’s Market and will continue to be so. Hence, it is all the more imperative that we work hard to increase supply and meet the rising demand for steel that I have insisted.
This year is a special year for SAIL since it is celebrating its 50th year. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every member of SAIL, both past and present. It is the dedicated service of each and every worker and employee of SAIL that has made SAIL what it is today. They have played a vital role in our country’s march towards industrialization and self-reliance. I am sure that SAIL will rise to the new challenges of today’s intensely competitive global market. My very best wishes to each one of you for your growth and continued prosperity.”