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Minister of State for Steel, Faggan Singh Kulaste on Thursday urged the industry to focus on increasing the production of value-added steel within the country to reduce import dependence.
“Though India is the second-largest steel producer in the world dependence on special steel imports is still high in the country,” he observed at the seminar ‘Manufacturing Value Added Steel: Contribution Towards Vocal for Local & Atmanirbhar Bharat’, organised by the industry chamber, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). The event was held jointly with the Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI), under the aegis of the Ministry of Steel.
Kulaste said, “While large varieties of value-added steel products are now being produced indigenously, the country is still dependent on import of several high performance and value-added products like electrical steel, automotive-grade steel and steels for specialised use in defence, space and nuclear applications.”
The minister added that with better demand prospects and mega expansion plans in the pipeline, there was a need to focus on alloy and special steels as it guaranteed a better premium to both steelmakers and consumers.
“If required, necessary efforts can be made to collaborate with foreign players for technical and strategic cooperation for this purpose,” he noted.
He stated that import volume for value-added steel products might be low in the overall steel import basket of the country but in terms of value, it was significantly high.
Kulaste also urged the industry to look at the overall life cycle cost of value-added steel products, involving all stakeholders to have higher usage intensity of such products.
“We should focus on value along with volumes. In order to produce the special grade steel, the industry should focus on increasing R&D, form JVs to set up plants in the country to meet domestic demand and exports,” he said.
Govt Committed to Taking Measures to Help Local Players
He stated that the government was committed to taking measures to ensure the development of all such special steel and alloys to minimise import dependence. “We would also work under the umbrella of the clarion call given by the Prime Minister for Vocal for Local and Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he added.
Emphasising on the role of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Kulaste said that it stressed on ‘value addition’ for raw material and producing finished goods to drive the shift from raw material export to finished goods export.
“This would help in strengthening the domestic steel industry in manufacturing different grades of value-added steel. We are working to remove the impediments, like raw material availability for the units producing value-added steel,” he said.
Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Director, SRTMI, said that there was an urgent need to look at all value-added steel products coming into the country and substitute them with domestic production to become a self-reliant nation.
AK Chaudhary, Chair, FICCI Steel Committee & Chairman, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) said that medium and high carbon steel despite being manufactured in the country was not able to take care of all the steel requirements of the nation. He urged the government to further incentivise the value-added steel manufacturers in the country.
VR Sharma, Co-Chair, FICCI Steel Committee & Managing Director, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd said that there was a need to reduce the cost of grade steels in the country. He also urged the industry to work on increasing the production each year by 10 per cent to meet the growing demand.
Sanjay Jayram, Senior Member, FICCI Steel Committee & Executive Vice President, JSW Steel Ltd said that India had tremendous potential and capabilities to increase the consumption of steel. A collaborative approach would be required to increase the production of value-added steel, he added.
Abhuday Jindal, Co-Chair, FICCI Steel Committee & Managing Director, Jindal Stainless Ltd emphasised the need for more joint efforts between the industry and the government to achieve the potential in the sector.