Company – MSPL Limited
Nature of business – Iron ore mining, Gold mining, Wind power and Pellet plant
I joined them when mining was at its peak. But as every industry goes into the correction mode it was the turn of mining this time. Merchant mining was allowed in early 2000 by the GoI, earlier it was an industry run by PSU’s. With private players coming into business the rules of the game changed. PSU’s were sidelined and exports were allowed directly by the merchant miners. This also encouraged many powerful politicians to try their luck in this business. Since they were in the Govt they could play their powerful roles with fair amount of ease. State govt and Centre have an equal role to play in this business. This is where people like Reddy’s were born. However with lot more media writing on this subject the cat was out of the bag and few NGO’s also played their role in exposing many politicians and corporate too. Supreme Court (SC) came into the picture and a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) was set up to probe into the illegal mining. However in the process everyone was painted in the same brush. While some were true and some were hyped. Corporate wars were being fought at CEC level each one hurling blames at other to come clean. CEC in the process started was highlighting everyone’s fault.
Media was briefed after each visit by CEC. We had no PR agency to work for as no agency was willing to take up the challenge. In each case after discussion with the management point by point reply was given to media both verbally and in written form and in some cases to the TV media too. Since merchant miners were not willing to come out in open I was also the spokesperson for the organisation. In the same breath I also encountered some corporate enemies too as I had to mention them in my updates to media.
It was very intense media activity and torturing too. But there were so many learning’s too. I had exposure to the best of media during these times and can give lessons on this many after this experience.
In this process I started interacting with media not only in Bnagalore but also in Mumbai Delhi and Hyderabad as the mining scam became a national issue. I have spoken on NDTV, CNNIBN, CNBC, Times Now and many regional channels. I was also interviewed by New York Times link of which I am sharing with you.
MSPL Pellet plant- Manufacturing industry
This is another different kind of experience which is worth sharing.
We had acquired over 1000 acres of land for Steel plant and pellet plant. The land was acquired through the Govt agency KIADB with proper documentation. Some opposition came as in the acquisition a lake was also part of the piece of land. Some villagers started creating disturbing situation taking the environment pitch and approached the courts. Now all courts get serious when environment issue is brought as this area is deprived of rains every year and killing a lake would have been disastrous as water bodies get affected. We had to sit with the management and assured the court that despite Steel plant coming we shall retain the lake which was covering close to 150 acres and store water in the pond. It was internally decided that the water will be used for the steel plant when it comes as Steel is water consuming business. The courts accepted our offer and set aside the grievance of villagers.
When all this was happening villagers kept feeding media with information about which was refuted one by one and today the issue is buried and villagers are also silent.
CBI case against JSW
While we had a PR agency but they never came to our rescue in this case. Even Mumbai office didn’t help us solve the issue and we were left to use our own media network and find amicable solutions.
The case is like this: When few politicians wanted to topple the BSY government they found a flaw in his actions where JSW had donated 20 Cr to BSY’s trust which runs educational institutions. This was termed as quid pro quo for a possible benefit. Mysore Minerals Limited (MML) had a mine from where we used to procure the iron ore for our steel mill. There was a long term buying arrangement we had with MML at a cost. Now this was to be escalated after a given period. But which was extended at the same cost which was questioned by the State level committee which was set aside by BSY as he was also the Minister of Mines. The other group found meat in this and it was referred to CBI courts to investigate. In this case our Director was made accused. After many hearings and appearances he was made the witness.
We brought to the notice of media in a format which was well understood by all. The pitch was that as a part of CSR we had promised to construct a hall in the name of OP Jindal the Founding Chairman of the group in the institution run by BSY’s Trust. Now the case is in cold storage and media has been pacified.
However in the bargain media had published many stories which did hurt the brand. With my intervention we kept showcasing many of our CSR activities in media which was a continuous process. We portrayed case studies in women empowerment, girl child education, rural infrastructure building, and building of schools, mission against malnutrition, skill development and many more. This changed the perception of media and people in the state. People started looking up at JSW for their humongous achievements. I must bring to your light that we have received over 500 news clips of various activities. I also used All India radio AIR very effectively for positive messaging. Today the brand is looked up.