Sources said that the two proposals are likely to be put up by the ministry for discussion in the Cabinet within a week.
The steel ministry will soon move two cabinet notes — one seeking approval for its national steel policy that aims to build an additional 180 million tonne installed capacity by 2030-31, and another to ensure that the government and its agencies give preferential treatment to steel made in India. Sources said that the two proposals are likely to be put up by the ministry for discussion in the Cabinet within a week. Parliament’s approval is not required for both of them to come into effect.
The draft national steel policy that proposes to raise country’s steel capacity to 300 million tonne per annum in the next 12-13 years, however, outlines that capital mobilisation will be a challenging task given the enormity of required fund (projected at `10 lakh crore) and the current industry situation.
Industry sources have said that India’s installed steel capacity could realistically double during the period to 240 MT and it is banking on the domestic steel industry to reach to the target. The foreign firms have burnt their fingers time and again and the steel ministry is not expecting any of them to invest in the country during the period. Meanwhile, the sector has a staggering `3 lakh crore outstanding to the banking system and is one of the largest contributors to the non-performing assets (NPAs).
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The other cabinet note is to get the cabinet’s stamp of approval for a proposal to give the preferential treatment to India-made steel in government-funded and related projects. Sources in the ministry said that the proposal is to help consumption of domestically produced steel to grow faster and to rein in imports further.
The government, in the recent past, had taken a slew of measures to protect the domestic industry from low-priced imports, mainly from China, Japan, South Korea and other countries. The measures include imposition of minimum import price (MIP) and anti-dumping and safeguard duties. Steel imports to India, which rose to an all-time high of 11.2 mt last fiscal, fell by 38.5% during April-February at 6.5 MT and the country has become a net exporter of the steel.