Interview of Navratna PSU NALCO CMD Anshuman Das

nalcocmdNational Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO) at last has a full time head in Anshuman Das as Chairman-cum-Managing Director after a gap of nearly a decade or so. On August 30, 2012, he took over the additional charge as its Chairman and Managing Director. Prior to that, Das headed the Material Department as its Executive Director for a brief while before taking over as Director (Commercial) NALCO in October, 2009.

Having completed B. Sc. Engineering (Mechanical) and M.B.A. from the University of Hull, U.K, Das began his career in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a Management Trainee. Then, he pursued a post-graduation course in Aeronautical Production in IIT, Chennai and was posted in HAL, Sunabeda. He was primarily working in the areas of Tool Engineering and Manufacture of Aero Engines. In 1982, he joined NALCO. He has served in several capacities in NALCO.
In a free-wheeling interaction with Sandeep Pattnaik and Brahmi Priya Samantray, Anshuman Das expressed candidly about the company’s CAPEX plans including investment in Greenfield projects in the state and about its pollution control measures.

Excerpts from the interview:

Nalco was headless for long, having only in-charge CMDs. Did it affect the company’s performance in any way?

A corporate without a head for long is definitely having a bearing on its performance. Though day-to-day functions in a Navratna company like Nalco do not get affected much, due to robust system in place, but the broad objectives gets affected in the long run. A company has to strategise its growth plan, future expansion plans, diversification plans etc. under an able leadership. And, Nalco is no exception to this.

NALCO has an ambitious CAPEX plan of Rs. 1,734 crore for fiscal year 2013-14. To what extent it has been materialized so far?

The company has now revised the CAPEX target to Rs. 542.50 crore for 2013-14 FY. Till Nov’14 Rs. 282.50 crore has been spent. The initial CAPEX target which was set for Rs. 1734 crore, included Rs. 894 Crore towards 2 x 700 MW Nuclear Power Plant in JV with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) at Kakrapar, Gujarat. Although Nalco board has approved 26% equity participation which is Rs. 894 crore, clearance from Cabinet Committee on Security, Government of India is awaited.

How much investment is in the pipeline from NALCO in setting-up Greenfield projects in the state in the coming fiscal year and what is the investment in the current FY?

One Greenfield project is presently underway i.e. Utkal-E Coal Block near Angul. NALCO has already invested Rs. 120 crores in this project having outlay of Rs. 338 crores. We are also planning to set up a new alumina refinery of 1 million TPA at Damanjodi at a cost of Rs. 5540 crores, subject to mining lease of Pottangi mine. Besides, a 5 lakh TPA Smelter and 1260 MW captive power plant (CPP) in Odisha are in pipeline involving a cost of Rs. 16345 crores. Project viability dependent upon allocation of Coal Block.

How the company is going about investing in the Green energy sector in Odisha?

Company is likely to invest Rs. 84 crores for 14 MW wind power plant (WPP) at Damanjodi and Rs. 1.25 crore for 160 KWP for roof top solar power in Bhubaneswar.

There has been an inordinate delay in the renewal of mining lease partially affecting NALCO’s production of bauxite and alumina. How did it impact the company’s performance?

During the slump period when our Panchpatmali mine faced closure due to delay in renewal of mining lease for around a month, it did not affect our refinery operations as we have pre-empted such a situation and had kept adequate stock to run our plant. We have also undertaken long pending activities regarding mines equipments and our conveyor systems during that period. Our production figure was 54.2 lakh tonnes of bauxite and 18.02 lakh tonnes of Alumina and the sales was Rs 6,809 crore. So, the effect of closure of mines has not affected our top-line significantly. But, the most vital thing is that, we must get a permanent mining lease done to conduct our operations, so that such situation don’t occur in future.

Exploring new mineral reserves for import substitution was the latest recommendation from mineral scientists. How Nalco is poised to go into it?

NALCO is considering foraying into making titanium slag, which is an intermediate product for other titanium related products, in JV with Indian Rare Earth Limited (IREL). The illmenite produced by IREL at their Odisha Sand Complex at Chhatrapur will be used as feedstock for the process. This will help in import substitution of titanium slag.

The Supreme Court has made the consent of the local community mandatory for conducting mining operations. Will it affect the industrialization process in an economy already reeling under slowdown? What will be its impact on Nalco’s production activities?

Obtaining the consent of local inhabitants of a particular area before starting any mining or exploration activities in that particular area is definitely a welcome move and it creates a harmonious environment. I don’t think, this will have any negative impact on our productions. As a responsible corporate citizen, we always take the local communities around and spend 2% of the net profit every year for CSR activities for peripheral development.

Green activists are accusing Nalco’s smelter and captive power plant at Angul polluting the air and water in the region……

I deny all these allegations. Let me tell you, we are among very few companies having online monitoring system to check air and water pollutions, CO2 emissions etc. and sharing the details with the OSPCB (Orissa State Pollution Control Board) directly. In smelter plant and in alumina refinery, we are a zero discharge company. We don’t discharge any effluent to the neighbourhood. We also undertake adequate measures to reduce the level of pollution emission inside our plant like, use of electrostatic precipitators. Similarly, sequestration unit in captive power plant helps in producing more Oxygen by consuming CO2. This is an innovative technology we have adopted in our system to lower the pollution level. We have also maintained ash-ponds to take care of industrial effluents like Alkaline emitting from the Damanjodi refinery.

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OdishaInc Bureau