Concerned with anaemic consumption growth, steel minister Chaudhary Birender Singh has initiated talks with other ministries governing infrastructure sectors on ways to step up the use of the alloy. He has also asked steel PSUs like SAIL and RINL to improve on their marketing strategies to project steel as a construction material better than cement or plastic.
“I am holding inter-ministerial meetings with all ministries dealing with infrastructure. I had a meeting recently with road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari where I highlighted the merits of using steel in building bridges and slag for construction of roads. The road ministry has formed a task force,” Singh told FE in a meeting.
Singh said steel not only enhances the longevity of the bridges by more than 30 years, it also takes half the time to erect a bridge compared to their concrete counterparts, but admitted that the cost might be higher by 10-15%. Similarly, latest findings showed that steel slag is a better material than others for road construction.
If not properly utilised, slags can cause environmental degradation. India produces around 35 MT of slag a year; while slag coming out of blast furnace, nearly 20 MT, is used in making cement, those coming out of the steel melting shops remains largely unutilised. The problem would get worse with the growth in steel production. India targets to near treble its steel production to 300 MT by 2030. Slag is a byproduct of steel. Incidentally, a committee has been formed to suggest ways of dealing with slag.
India’s per capita steel consumption at 61 kg is much lower than the global average of 208 kg. It looks pale with major producing countries such as China at 489 kg and S Korea at 1,114 kg.
Singh said apart from the Bhopal consultative committee meet, held on October 5, he would also hold three other such meetings in Agartala, Chandigarh and Mumbai shortly on measures to increase steel demand.