Indian Steel production one of the best in the world – Virbhadra Singh

Delhi: Union steel minister Virbhadra Singh said that Indian steel Industry because of its inherent strength of cost competitiveness and due to stimulus measures announced had moved to third position in the world steel production during the first five months of this year.

Addressing a ASSOCHAM submit in Delhi, the minister said this performance has put the steel sector of the country as one the best in the world. After China and Japan, currently it is Indian steel on the world production list, he said

Indian steel consumption will continue to grow at a pace varying between 6-8 per cent during the current financial year, fully supported by the various fiscal, monetary and administrative measures being exercised by the government, he said.

Massive expenditure proposed by the government for social and physical infrastructure growth augurs well for the steel sector also. Nearly Rs. 70,000 Crore has been earmarked in this year’s budget on schemes such as Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana(PMGSY), Indira Awas Yojana etc.

We have chalked out the action plan for the next 100 days with a focus on achieving the target of 124 million tonnes of capacity by 2011-12 with special focus on the modernization and capacity expansion programmes in the leading steel PSUs.

Apart from that we propose restructuring, reorganizing and amalgamating the PSUs for achieving economies of scale and vertical integration along with raw material security, he said.

On the export of Iron Ore the Minister said, emphasis should be less on exports and more on the use of the ore for running our own plants. He urged the steel makers for maintaining price line commensurate with the input cost and fair return on capital employed. He also urged them to maintain utmost transparency in prices.

Addressing the meeting, Steel Secretary PK Rastogi said, the Indian steel industry has weathered the global downturn very well. He said, production and consumption of steel has shown remarkable turn around. In the first quarter this year, production has gone up by 3.4 per cent with June recording 5.3 per cent growth over the corresponding month last year. During April – June 2009, consumption of steel has gone up by 5 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Rastogi said, while imports fell sharply by 23 per cent in June this year after a hefty rise of 21 per cent in the month of May 2009. During the first quarter this year imports have fallen by over 5 per cent although the fall in exports has been much steeper at 37 per cent.

The Steel Secretary said, the sponge iron sector is facing problems with the supply of thermal coal. An alternate mechanism to address this issue is under the active consideration of the Ministry. He said, the Inter Ministerial Group is taking up the issues concerning infrastructure with the concerned state governments and other related departments and promised to take up other issues with concerned ministries whenever such issues are brought to the notice of the Steel Ministry.

Others who addressed the opening session included the Chairman of ASSOCHAM Sajan Jindal, Managing Director of Tata Steel B Muthuraman, Chairman Steel Authority of India Limited SK Roongta and PK Bishnoi, Chairman of RINL. Over 200 delegates from the industry are participating in the day long seminar.

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