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sail: Strategic divestment of CEL, SAIL units likely to conclude by FY21 end

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The government plans to conclude stake sales in a couple of companies before March-end even though a large majority of the ongoing strategic divestment pipeline will be completed in the next financial year.

“We should be able to close Computer Electronics Ltd. and some units of Steel Authority of India by March,” a top government official told ET.

The revised estimate of proceeds from disinvestment of equity in public sector enterprises is pegged at Rs 32,000 crore in FY21.

The sale of stakes in Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corp.,

, BEML and Container Corp. of India, among others, will pick up pace from March. The disinvestment target for FY22 has been set at Rs 1.75 lakh crore.

The strategic sale of

’s Visvesvaraya Iron & Steel Plant in Bhadrawati, Karnataka, and Salem Steel Plant in Salem, Tamil Nadu, have been hanging fire for the past couple of years.

The Cabinet had granted in-principle approval to fully divest government ownership and give management control of the two lossmaking plants in 2016, while the expressions of interest were issued in 2018. The response to the proposals has been lukewarm, which was further dampened by the pandemic that impacted the government’s overall divestment plan.

The divestment of the two plants has also faced resistance from state governments and employees.

On the other hand, CEL is a pioneer in solar photovoltaics, having developed India’s first solar cell in 1977 and first solar panel in 1978 as well as commissioning the country’s first solar plant in 1992. It also developed and manufactured the first crystalline flexible solar panel especially for use on the passenger train roofs in 2015.

However, the PSE has been a lossmaking unit and the government intends to divest its 100% ownership and hand over management control to private parties.



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