In Conversation With Vizag Steel Plant CMD – P Madhusudan

Vizag’s cosmopolitan aspect had received an international boost with the sanctioning of the Vizag Steel Plant; dozens of Russians descended here to help build this mega industry. One of the biggest industrial townships in Vizag district, it changed the complete topography and economical dynamics of Gajuwaka and the surrounding areas. Vizag Steel was conferred Navratna status in 2010. At the helm of this mammoth industry is the CMD, P Madhusudan who shares with our writer Uma the mega plans in motion to take Vizag Steel to the next level.

He turned up for the interview at SAIL with the sole intention of getting a posting in the newly commissioned Vizag Steel Plant. So committed was he to his objective, that he initially walked out of the interview when he realised that the Vizag offer was not on the table. But fate ruled otherwise; he was called back and offered a pretty good deal, which included three advanced increments, in an already established highly successfully running plant. Convinced, P Madhusudan relented and started his career in the Steel Sector as a Junior Manager (Finance) in the Bhilai Steel Plant of SAIL in 1983. And about three decades later, he now heads the Vizag Steel Plant, as its CMD! “The interesting aspect is that I wanted to start here as a junior officer, instead I came here much later in a senior post”, he reveals. Call it fate, a coincidence or sheer luck; for Ponnapalli Madhusudan, the Chairman and Managing Director of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL or the Vizag Steel Plant) it was perhaps a mix of all three along with a healthy dose of hard work and dedication.

 If you look at any global growth story of any economy it is invariably piggybacked on the growth of the steel industry and coal sector.

A qualified Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant and Company Secretary, he graduated from a college near Guntur, affiliated to the Andhra University and completed his Chartered Accountancy in Hyderabad. A rank holder in the Andhra University, he completed both levels of CA in his first attempt and secured an All-India rank. Accordingly, when he attended the interview at Bhilai; (which was conducting interviews for the Vizag plant till the year before – 1982) rather than letting him leave, the interview panel board convinced him to join the Bhilai plant. Later, in 2007, by then a General Manager of Finance, he was posted in Asansol, to help revive SAIL’s newly acquired IISCO plant, one of the oldest steel plants in the country. There he was actively associated with the modernisation and profit improvement of the plant. Finally when a slot opened up in Vizag, he applied and was eventually offered the post of a Director at the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. in 2009. He became the Chairman and Managing Director in January 2014.

“When I joined in 2009, RINL plant was expanding. The actual phase of construction picked up from 2010 onwards; it was indeed a great experience to get associated in such an important stage of the plant. It was a growing stage and key decisions were required from time to time” he says. He further adds that “now that the expansion phase is over and the units have been commissioned, we are now focussed on ramping up the capacity. We have also implemented many technological upgrades to improve efficiency and techno-economic parameters, bringing down the cost factor substantially. By the calendar year 2018, with all the units functioning at their optimum capacity levels we will have a robust 7.3 million tonnes plant in place. Moreover, subject to the market, we plan to go in for an additional 4 MT Greenfield establishment. We have the land, competent and skilled people, access to two major ports, the national highway and railways; plus there is immense potential for steel consumption in India. If you look at any global growth story of any economy it is invariably piggybacked on the growth of the steel industry and coal sector. So with the government supporting through initiatives like MIP to control cheap imports (from China) and infrastructural projects like the Smart cities, the Indian steel sector and RINL in particular, will see a lot of growth. The Capital City, Amaravati, and the requisite infrastructure planned for the new state are good upcoming opportunities. We are also diversifying in terms of geography and products. We are establishing a JV with the Power Grid in the Vizag premises for the production of 120, 000 tonnes of transmission towers. We provide the input material and the Power Grid will absorb the output. Secondly, RINL, as a corporate entity, will be establishing a Forged Wheel production unit jointly with Indian Railways in Rae Bareli in UP. That will be the second unit of RINL after steel plant at Vizag.”

As an integral aspect of the city, RINL has contributed greatly towards the society’s well being. “We believe in sharing the company’s prosperity. What was earlier termed as ‘peripheral development’ is now CSR” says the CMD. Elaborating, he talks about the recent donation of about Rs.2 crore worth of steel to King George Hospital (KGH) meant for constructing a multi-storied block housing many departments of the hospital. In addition to the greenery developed in the plant premises, around 4 and a half lakh saplings are being planted in the city under the Green Visakha initiative. Social causes like skill development for women and youth especially from the lower strata of the society, contributions to old-age homes, running a school for children with special needs (Arunodaya School), medical camps, mobile cancer detection units, mobile eye-care units and many more such projects have been often taken up by the Steel Plant.

Expressing an affinity towards the city, he says that Vizag is a peaceful city. “The city has a cosmopolitan feel with an undercurrent of Andhra Pradesh’s traditional culture. While once settling in Hyderabad was a foregone conclusion, my wife and I are now seriously considering of settling down here. Further, Vizag is poised to be the financial capital of the State. It is definitely going to be a more happening city in the years to come” he says in conclusion.

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