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\"DomesticKOLKATA: The union steel ministry is betting big on an increase in domestic consumption of steel led by planned investments of nearly Rs 4 lakh crore in infrastructure sector.

While steel consumption increased by nearly 3 per cent, in 2016-17, the steel minister urged the industry to ensure that the rate of growth goes up to 4 per cent in the current year 2017-18.

With Rs 4 lakh crore of investments planned in infrastructure sector, there is a huge opportunity for increasing consumption, Chaudhary Birender Singh said. He was speaking at India Steel 2017 International Conference and Exhibition in Mumbai on Wednesday.

World Steel Association has projected Indian steel demand to grow by 5.7 per cent in 2017. While globally steel demand has been projected to grow by 0.5 per cent in 2017. So demand in India will grow at 10 times the world levels in 2017, he added.

The minister said the draft National Steel Policy, which is scheduled to be released soon, will give concrete shape to the vision and plans for the steel industry.

“For increasing consumption of steel, we have also conceptualized the idea of Indian-made steel. The Draft Cabinet Note has been finalized. The proposal, as you know, is to make it mandatory to use Indian-made steel in key projects,” the minister added.

Singh said the steel ministry is far ahead of other Ministries in implementing quality standards. Around 75 per cent of steel products are already covered under quality norms. He also drew attention to three areas of key importance like raw material for steel making, demand generation for steel and Research & Development in steel sector. One of the major constraints that Indian steel industry faces is raw material availability and prices.

Coking coal prices have almost doubled in last three weeks. Cyclone Debbie in Australia last month has affected major mines and ports, which is leading to this sudden price jump. Indian steel industry is heavily dependent on imports of coking coal and this situation arises after every alternate year. We need to make conscious and concerted efforts to overcome this situation. Ministry of Steel is working with other Ministries like Coal, Petroleum & Natural Gas & Shipping on all these fronts.

While more coal washeries are in pipeline, Coal India Limited is also in the process of acquiring coking coal assets. Controlling diversion of coking coal to thermal plants is being considered and domestic production of coking coal is being increased.

He also said steel ministry has approached concerned ministries & departments and is constantly working on expediting finalization of ‘Metal Recycling Policy’ so that steel scrap is available domestically as a raw material to steel industry.

“Another breakthrough that we have achieved is that Railways have agreed to our demand for allowing slurry pipeline across railway lines. This will bring down cost of transportation. We need to have more slurry pipelines as logistics costs account for around 15 per cent of the total cost of steel production in India,” the minister said.

The steel ministry is closely coordinating with Ministry of Housing & Ministry of Urban Development for increasing usage of steel. The government is also working on the feasibility of increasing steel usage in housing projects under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban.

Ministry of Steel team is working round the clock to conceive and execute strategies to increase demand for steel in India and has succeeded in including the concept of Life Cycle Cost Analysis in General Financial Rules (GFR) 2017, the minister said.

He also suggested that primary and secondary steel producers must come together to establish a “Big-data Analytics & Application Centre for Steel”. The objective should be to pool resources and information available with all steel companies and analyse the collated data. This will help to promote usage of steel by statistically demonstrating the advantages of steel over other materials and also to explore new areas where steel can be used.

The minister also said the industry needs to focus on is Research & Development. Inspite of being world’s third largest steel producer, India still imports huge quantities of value-added and special steels which are not being made in India. R&D in steel sector needs to be oriented to market requirements and customer needs. Singh said the steel ministry has set up ‘Steel Research & Technology Mission of India,’ which will function as the umbrella body for all steel- related R&D in India.


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