India is heading towards becoming the second largest steel producer in the world, Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said today. “Indian steel sector was not what it is today. There was loan stress on it and it was a matter of serious concern for the banking sector and the RBI. We took steps in this direction to improve the situation,” the minister told reporters while highlighting his three-year achievements and the road ahead for the steel sector.
“We have set a milestone…we have become the second largest stainless steel producer in the world in 2016 leaving Japan behind. In 2015, India became the third largest producer of crude steel in the world as against its 4th position in 2014. India left behind the US to attain this position,” he said. “If you see what India produced last was 100 MT and Japan 104 MT. Soon we will be second largest steel producer in the world,” the minister said.
Further, Singh said, in 2016-17 India became the net exporter of steel with 8.2 MT of exports, registering a 102 per cent growth over previous fiscal. The ministry is aiming to take the exports figures to double digits and India would be the largest steel exporter in the world in the next two to three years, he said. During the same fiscal, imports were reduced by 37 per cent at 7.42 MT as a result of government initiatives, he said.
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India added 16.5 million tonnes of crude steel capacity during past three years, he added. Singh also said that legal matters in the sector should be taken up on fast-track basis. “We will soon take steps in this regard. We have talked to the Law Ministry also and have plans of appointing independent arbitrators. What happens is two parties become stiff and maintained their stand. Hence, the matter keeps on pending affecting the sector. There are 4,000 cases lying at SAIL alone,” he said.
“We will try to get these cases and such matters taken up on fast-track basis,” he added. Industry will benefit a lot as the most important steel making product coal has been put in the lowest tax bracket under the GST. There will be a 5 per cent GST on coal and 18 per cent on semi-finished and unfinished steel goods. Efforts are on to increase the contribution of steel sector to the GDP from the present 2 per cent, the minister said. The new steel policy will help raise production capacity to 300 MT by 2030-31, he said.