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Steel manufacturing and the World Trade Center: welcome to Punjab

Lindsay Houts Published: February 7, 2013

Steel manufacturing is a large industry in Punjab. We visited three different businesses that deal in steel, and it was pretty fascinating.

Piles just like this:

Become steel pieces like these.

... becomes this. It's then bought by local companies which make it into things like ...
... becomes this. It's then bought by local companies which make it into things like ...

 It’s then bought by local companies which make it into things like these:

... these!
... these!

Discarded steel comes to Punjab from all over the world to be recycled. It ships in large containers to ports in India and then comes by trucks to plants in Punjab.

The steel that was removed from the site of the World Trade Center eventually came to Punjab to be recycled. Learning that made the dirt floors I was walking on feel a bit hallowed to me.

Spring leafs (the stacked pieces of steel that you can see here) are on most trucks in India. This is one of the end products that the reclaimed steel becomes.
Spring leafs (the stacked pieces of steel that you can see here) are on most trucks in India. This is one of the end products that the reclaimed steel becomes.

The average laborer in a place like we visited makes 300 rupees, or $6 USD per day. It was explained to us that $6 in India spends like $30 would in the U.S., but it’s still an incredibly small wage.

These two men worked in tandem, dropping enormous sledge hammers to cut the steel pieces into smaller sections.
These two men worked in tandem, dropping enormous sledge hammers to cut the steel pieces into smaller sections.

Women work in some of the plants to sort the steel as it arrives, but its the only job they can hold in this kind of business. It’s winter here, and an off-season for agriculture. Normally they’d be working in the fields, but they take work at steel factories when ag work isn’t available.


OSHA would lose its mind over any one of the places we saw. Things I didn’t see much of: eye protection, closed-toed shoes, things other than dirt floors, face masks, hard hats, gloves.

The size of the operations was impressive. So was the dirt that came out of my hair after this expedition. I don’t have a photo of that. (You’re welcome.)