He said, "the Government will soon be releasing a National Steel Policy draft, which will give concrete shape to its vision and plans for the steel industry." He declared that he wanted to bring a 100 percent quality regime into the steel sector. The minister inaugurated the two-day 'India Steel 2017' exhibition and conference in New Delhi.
In his inaugural address, he complimented the industry representatives for posting good growth figures in 2016-17. "I want as much growth and one percent more," he exhorted.
Production increased by 9 percent last year, so it should go up by 10 percent this year. He expressed confidence although the past three years were challenging for the steel industry, the Government had been intervening strategically at important times and thus today India is a net exporter, and among the few countries that have a positive demand for steel.
“The Government has provided the steel industry with a level playing field, and the industry has responded by converting challenges to opportunities”. Chaudhary Birender Singh highlighted five focus areas where he felt further effort was needed: (i) production and productivity increase; (ii) R&D; (iii) ‘India-made’ steel; (iv) demand boost for steel; and (v) excellence in quality and efficiency.
He asserted that demand will increase because India is strategically placed with a demand for infrastructure development in this part of the world. “The next destination for steel consumption will be the African continent,” he disclosed. Hence for the next 50 years, lack of consumption will not hamper production.
“Quality regime is one of the factors which can increase our exports to great heights.” The quality regime will be driven by the availability of raw materials, demand generation and R&D. He revealed that his ministry was working with other departments to make alternative raw materials available so that the industry need not be unduly dependent on coking coal. He also mentioned that he is considering a proposal to make it mandatory to use India-made steel in key projects.
He also called for increased R&D. “We have been limiting ourselves to incremental improvements,” he said calling for work on new technologies to overcome bottlenecks. He expressed disappointment that although India is the third largest producer of steel, we still import value-added and specialised steels that are not made here. He also felt that in this era, R&D should also include marketing. “We have gained speed and momentum on the runway in the last two to three years. Now is the time for takeoff and touch commanding heights of success,” he concluded.