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PMO Asks Departments to Use 'Indian Products' After Tussle Over Railways' Steel Purchase

The steel and rail ministries have been at loggerheads over the state-run network's decision to buy rails from overseas, despite assurances of supply from local companies Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Jindal Steel and Power.

Reuters

Updated:December 22, 2017, 8:02 PM IST
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PMO Asks Departments to Use 'Indian Products' After Tussle Over Railways' Steel Purchase
Representative image. (via Getty Images)
New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked all government departments to prioritise the use of local products in state projects, after domestic companies objected to a global tender by the railways ministry seeking tonnes of steel rails.

The steel and rail ministries have been at loggerheads over the state-run network's decision to buy rails from overseas, despite assurances of supply from local companies Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Jindal Steel and Power.

The steel ministry says the tender goes against the "Make in India" manufacturing push championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "It is very disturbing that the broad message has not been appreciated by various departments," Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to PM Modi, said in a letter to the heads of various departments.

"It should be the responsibility at the highest level in each department to ensure that the tender conditions are strictly in sync with the public procurement order and each tender must be examined from the point of view of the interest of Indian manufacturers."

The letter was uploaded on the steel ministry's website on Friday. Aruna Sharma, the top civil servant in the steel ministry, heads a government committee on the use of locally made iron and steel in government projects.

The committee met on Thursday and gave Indian Railways "one time exception" to buy 487,000 tonnes of rails under the global tender. The railways had earlier sought to buy 717,000 tonnes under the tender.

State-run SAIL, currently the main supplier of rails to Indian Railways, has struggled to supply the steel as the world's fourth largest rail network tries to upgrade and expand.

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