Reduce exports of minerals, focus on value-addition: Steel Minister Pradhan


Union Minister of Steel Dharmendra Pradhan stressed on global outreach as a means of sourcing raw materials as well as exploring new overseas markets for Indian steel, while speaking at the Union government’s first “Chintan Shivir”, organised recently in conjunction with the Joint Plant Committee (JPC) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci). He emphasised on the need to reduce exports of mineral resources and to focus on value addition. He also spoke about the need for a transformational leap in the Indian steel industry.

Unveiling the new logo of the Ministry of Steel, “Ispati Irada”, Pradhan said the country must work with an “Ispati Irada” to increase appropriate usage of steel. He informed that eastern India is the focus of the government. Mission Purvodaya will strive to work on the paradigm of eastern India driving national growth, he said.

Union Minister for Steel Dharmendra Pradhan addressing the gathering at Chintan Shivir on September 23rd
Union Minister for Steel Dharmendra Pradhan addressing the gathering at Chintan Shivir on September 23rd

It also emerged during the sessions that the state governments and the Government of India (GoI) are working together to avoid any anticipated disruption in iron ore supply due to the expiry of mining licences in March 2020.

In addition, issues related to logistics are also being resolved through effective co-ordination between the state governments and the GoI.

The Chintan Shivir was a landmark event in the history of the Indian steel industry – not only in terms of participation but also from the perspective of information sharing, said Saraswati Prasad, Special Secretary, Ministry of Steel. The sessions were designed keeping in mind the current and future needs of the steel industry, aligned to the intent of the National Steel Policy, 2017.

The event also provided an opportunity for stakeholders from the steel fraternity to hold discussions on topics of pressing relevance. The stakeholders emphasized on creating an ecosystem for enhancing steel usage in the country, scaling up steel-making capacity in the primary and secondary sectors, developing steel clusters in co-ordination with the state governments and having in place an enabling steel scrap policy.

The industry captains highlighted the key issues that act as deterrents to the growth of the sector. These include the lack of adequate logistics, infrastructure, security of raw material supplies, delays in statutory approvals like environmental, forest and other clearances, availability of water, the fact that there is very little investment in R&D, lack of skill development, high power tariffs, lack of affordable access to finance and taxes in the mining industry.

The discussions brought to the fore knowledge gaps in the usage of steel. Resolving these would help generate demand. Also, taking advantage of the various initiatives of the GoI such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala, Housing for All, etc. will lead to enhanced steel consumption.

It also emerged that the steel industry needs to move on from its basket of generic items to value-added and high-end products.

There was active participation from the audience and many pertinent questions were raised and discussed. According to Prasad, “the Ministry has made a note of all the questions. Some of them were answered. Many of them remained unanswered. Make sure, the Ministry will make use of all these questions in the formulation of its policy.”