Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asked industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to submit a report on how to enhance per capita steel consumption in India. The minister has given 30 days time to engage with various ministries, including steel departments and stakeholders, and submit the report.
“The objective is clear: To increase the per capita steel consumption, which is at present is 74 kg. Pradhan was speaking at a webinar, ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Fostering Usage of Steel in Rural Development Sector’ organised by the Ministry of Steel in association with CII.
“CII together with the steel ministry, and other ministries like agri, food processing etc, must submit a report to the steel ministry within a month,” he said.
The conference was organised to identify the avenues of steel usage in sectors like agriculture, rural development, dairying and food processing. Steel is among the eight core sector industries of the Indian economy and its demand is positively correlated with economic growth. The rural economy, in comparison with the urban economy, is developing faster.
Speaking further, Pradhan said steel should be linked with all respective sectors to see where the metal can find application. By 2022, as part of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana there will be a house for everyone. Emphasis is being laid on roads in the rural areas. Private business is coming into Railways, he noted.
“Also, for the first time, in (the field of) agriculture, a plan has been made to inject huge investments in contract farming,” he said, adding, “increasing per capita consumption will also create new job opportunities and increase the revenue collection of states”.
Pradhan stated that there are immense opportunities in the rural sector to foster steel demand. He said, “I am glad to see stakeholders from steel, agriculture, rural development, animal husbandry and dairy coming together for this webinar.”
Agri fund disbursal
The minister informed that the government has started disbursing INR 10,000 crore from the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund with many new sectors being included in the priority sector.
“We are developing 5000 compressed bio-gas (CBG) plants across the country. Reserve Bank of India has recently included CBG in the priority sector. We are working to make ethanol from rice. The mission to ensure housing for all, investments in rural roads, railway infra augmentation and impetus to agriculture will all create greater steel demand. Enhancing per-capita steel consumption is in the interest of all,” he said.
Pradhan mentioned that rural India holds key to enhancing per-capital steel usage in the country. It will bring greater strength to society, ensure rural development and create jobs.
Rural economy growing faster: Kulaste
Speaking on the occasion, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel, Government of India, said that the government has taken several initiatives to transform the rural landscape. The webinar has been organized to tap the vast potential available for the iron and steel sector in the rural economy which is growing at a much faster rate, he said.
He highlighted that strong rural liquidity, sustained by higher minimum support price (MSP) for crops and supporting prices of agricultural produce, enhanced employment opportunities under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and other government schemes, adequate credit availability, and replacement demand all are helping to improve the rural economy and consequently increasing steel demand from the rural sector.
The government is focusing on all aspects, including homes, electricity, road infrastructure, purchase of agricultural produce, proper storage of food grains and agro-based industries. All such developmental works will require close ties with the iron and steel sector and help in increasing our per capita consumption.
The government is emphasizing on agricultural mechanization to increase production and domestic consumption in rural areas. A series of policy incentives to support the agricultural machinery sector and subsidy for purchase of agricultural machinery is moving forward at a great speed. This provides immense opportunities for the iron and steel sector.
It is felt that unplanned rural-urban migration in pursuit of better economic opportunities is putting pressure on urban amenities and many low-income migrants from rural areas are being forced to live in conditions of scarcity. Thus, there is a need to create employment in the rural economy to prevent unplanned migration from rural to urban areas, he added.