New Delhi, Feb. 17 : Union Steel and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday batted for zero imports of steel in Railways and Defence sector, saying domestic industry should be encouraged to produce special steel as per the industry requirements to support indigenisation.
Addressing a workshop “Indian Steel: Fostering Steel Usage in Railways & Defence Sectors”, organised by the Ministry of Steel in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), here Mr Pradhan said that apart from having strategic implication, there is immense economic and social implications of enhanced steel usage across Railways and Defence sectors which would also help in creation of jobs. Emphasising the Steel Ministry's role as a bridge between the steel industry, Railways and Defence sectors, he called for a strategic paper highlighting the specific long term requirement of these sectors to form an action plan with the steel industry for domestic fulfilment of the requirement.
Speaking about reducing imports, he emphasized on zero imports in railways and defence sector and further encouraged the domestic industry to produce special steel as per the industry requirements to support indigenisation.
The Minister stressed upon the need to develop an ecosystem for start-ups that will support production of special steel and urged the investors and industry to come together in nation’s interest. The key objective of the workshop was to have an in-depth discussion with the Railways and Defence sector to identify gaps and opportunities available in the supply of Steel and Steel Products.
The Minister mentioned that Japan and Korea which earlier used to import raw materials and then produce value added steel to export, are experiencing rising cost of production. “Hence, it is opportune time for the Indian industry and the Ministry to create an action plan for production of value added steel for fulfilment of domestic demand and international demand going forward,” he added. He also stressed the importance of Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS) in identifying imports for end use sector and reiterated that this data will enable the domestic steel industry in creating an action plan to manufacture specific steel domestically.
Last year, Indian Railways consumed seven MT of steel and witnessed a 17% increase as compared to the previous year. Indian Railways plans of decongestion through multi-tracking, high speed projects and concentrated focus on 58 super critical projects are expected to increase the demand at a higher pace. In addition, Dedicated Freight Corridor projects are expected to consume 17 MT of steel in the next 5 years. The workshop also witnessed the signing of a MoU between Indian Railways and SAIL for domestic fulfilment of forged axels and wheels.
The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force along with DRDO and the Ordinance Factory expressed the great potential for domestic fulfilment of special steel alloy requirements in the defence sector. A MoU was also signed between Ordnance Factories and SAIL to facilitate domestic fulfilment of steel requirement. In his address, Mr Binoy Kumar, Secretary, Steel Ministry, laid emphasis on ensuring quality and competitiveness of steel in line with the increased steel usage. He stated that the Ministry will soon incorporate more steel products under the current quality control order. (UNI)