Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh inaugurates India Steel 2017 in Mumbai

Mumbai: Following is the text of the Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh’s Inaugural Speech at the India Steel 2017 International Conference and Exhibition in Mumbai today:

Dr. Aruna Sharma, Secretary, Steel

Dr. Edwin Basson, Director General, World Steel Association

Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI Shri P.K.Singh, Chairman, SAIL

CMDs of Steel Companies

Senior Officials from Government of India and State Governments

Delegates & Exhibitors from India & abroad

Ladies & Gentlemen

I am happy to be with you all at ‘India Steel-2017’.

The gathering today is unique as multiple stakeholders of the Steel Industry are together at one platform. It is encouraging to see almost the entire Steel industry coming together to participate in this mega event.

I extend a warm welcome to a large number of international delegates who are part of the India Steel Expo.

The Reverse Buyer-Seller Meet being held during the event is first-of-its-kind exclusive meet for steel sector. This is a welcome initiative. I compliment Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Steel, FICCI and all those involved in this initiative. It will prove to be a landmark step for taking Indian steel to far corners of the world.

I commend the organising team for implementing my suggestion of having a session for women in steel sector. Constituting half the population, women are the joint decision makers in purchase decisions for home. Women can be perfect brand ambassadors for steel, as also influencers and opinion makers.

I am sure these two will become regular features in forthcoming events.

I was recently reading in a magazine that ‘Dollar value of steel’ is twice the size of all other major metal industries combined.

In terms of tonnes produced, steel is 15 times larger than other metal industries.

In terms of importance, steel is second only to oil as an essential segment for economic development. It is a matter of pride that all of us are a part of such a huge and important sector of the economy.

As we all know, the past 3 years have been quite challenging for the steel industry. Government of India intervened strategically at regular intervals to provide policy and regulatory support as and when required. MIP, Safeguard duties, anti-dumping duties, construction & infrastructure investment etc. were brought in to provide a level playing field.

I took charge of the Ministry of Steel in July 2016, and since then we have been focussing on five thrust areas, which can be summed up as PRIDE. These are
· Production and productivity increase
· Research & Development

· Indian-made steel concept

· Demand boost for steel

· Excellence in Quality and Efficiency

The focussed strategy of PRIDE has given desired results. India has emerged as a leading country among the steel producing nations. It is heartening to note that we are among the few countries to have a positive demand growth for steel.

In financial year 2016-17, Indian Steel industry has performed exceedingly well. We doubled our exports of steel products. In fact, India became a net exporter of steel after a gap of 3 years. We reduced our steel imports by 1/3rd and increased production of crude steel by around 9 percent During the last financial year, consumption of steel in India increased by 3 %.

I must compliment and congratulate each one of you for this wonderful performance. We have been providing a level playing field and equal opportunity to all steel producers. The industry, in turn reciprocated by putting in their best efforts to convert the challenges to opportunities.

I am sure that 2017-18 will also be a record-breaking year, with India leading the growth trend among major steel producing countries. I have full confidence in your potential and capabilities and I am sure that we can repeat the performance of 2016-17.

I want the industry to give as much growth as in last financial year and in fact one per cent more. I am asking you to better your best. Let our mission for 2017-18 be “Plus One Per Cent Growth Rate”.

We increased exports by 102 %, let us at least increase exports by 103 % this year.

We increased steel production by 9 %, let us increase production by at least 10 %.

We reduced imports by 36 %, let us see if we can further reduce imports by 37 %.

Steel consumption increased by 3 %, let us ensure that it increases by 4 %. With Rs. 4 lakh crore of investments planned in infrastructure sector, there is a huge opportunity for increasing consumption. World Steel Association has projected Indian steel demand to grow by 5.7 % in 2017. While globally steel demand has been projected to grow by 0.5 %in 2017. So demand in India will grow at 10 times the world levels in 2017.

As you know we have already shared the Draft National Steel Policy 2017 in public domain. I am happy to see that we have received very good suggestions and ideas. The draft National Steel Policy, which is scheduled to be released soon, will give concrete shape to the vision and plans for the steel industry.

We want to bring in 100 % quality regime in Indian steel sector. I am glad to share that Ministry of Steel is far ahead of other Ministries in implementing quality standards. Around 75 % of steel products are already covered under quality norms.

I would like to highlight three more areas today, raw material for steel making, demand generation for steel and Research & Development in steel sector.

One of the major constraints that Indian steel industry faces is raw material availability and prices. Coking Coal Prices have almost doubled in last three weeks. Cyclone Debbie in Australia last month has affected major mines and ports, which is leading to this sudden price jump. And it is not happening for the first time.

Indian steel industry is heavily dependent on imports of coking coal and this situation arises after every alternate year. We need to make conscious and concerted efforts to overcome this situation.

Ministry of Steel is working with other Ministries like Coal, Petroleum & Natural Gas & Shipping on all these fronts. More coal washeries are in pipeline. Coal India Limited is in the process of acquiring coking coal assets. Controlling diversion of coking coal to thermal plants is being considered and domestic production of coking coal is being increased.

Ministry of Steel has approached concerned Ministries & Departments and is constantly working on expediting finalization of ‘Metal Recycling Policy’ so that steel scrap is available domestically as a raw material to steel industry.

In a national conference for secondary steel sector that we organised earlier this month in Delhi, Gadkari ji shared the idea of a waterway to bring gas to India at a very low cost, which can be given to steel plants also.

Another breakthrough that we have achieved is that Railways have agreed to our demand for allowing slurry pipeline across railway lines. This will bring down cost of transportation. We need to have more slurry pipelines as logistics costs account for around 15 % of the total cost of steel production in India.

We are closely coordinating with Ministry of Housing & Ministry of Urban Development for increasing usage of steel. Venkaiah Naidu ji has assured us that feasibility of increasing steel usage in housing projects under Pradhan mantra Awas Yojana-Urban, will be examined.

Ministry of Steel team is working round the clock to conceive and execute strategies to increase demand for steel in India. Steel Industry as a whole needs to work together to establish the advantages and utility of using steel.

We all know that steel proves cost-effective on long term basis though it appears to be costly if we only look at upfront costs. Ministry pursued and succeeded in inclusion of the concept of Life Cycle Cost Analysis in GFR Rules 2017. Now the industry needs to have sufficient and updated data on such aspects.

I suggest that primary and secondary steel producers must come together to establish a “Big-data Analytics & Application Centre for Steel”. The objective should be to pool resources and information available with all steel companies and analyse the collated data.

This will help to promote usage of steel by statistically demonstrating the advantages of steel over other materials and also to explore new areas where steel can be used.

And let all your findings and research be in public domain so that there is no one-upmanship and data ownership issues. This will also help media, opinion leaders, architects and engineers get access to authentic and credible database. I am sure industry will give a serious thought to this idea.

For increasing consumption of steel, we have also conceptualized the idea of Indian-made steel. The Draft Cabinet Note has been finalized. The proposal, as you know, is to make it mandatory to use Indian-made steel in key projects.

We have organized Regional Conferences, reconstituted Steel Consumer Council, set up Inter-Ministerial Task Forces, got the proposal of Crash barriers along the highways approved by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. We will continue to provide policy support and supporting infrastructure through these and other new avenues.

Another area where I feel industry needs to focus on is Research & Development. We have been limiting ourselves to incremental improvements in existing technologies. However we also need to work on new technologies to overcome our bottlenecks.

Inspite of being world’s third largest steel producer, we still import huge quantities of value-added and special steels which are not being made in India. I had also shared an idea earlier about light-weighting of commercial vehicles using a new type of steel. This will help reduce wear and tear, fuel cost and will also increase demand for specialized steel. We need to focus on such advanced products.

R&D in steel sector also needs to be oriented to market requirements and customer needs. Commercialization potential should be a key component of R&D projects.

Ministry has set up “Steel Research & Technology Mission of India”. Realizing that Steel-related R&D efforts are scattered in India, I have restructured the institution of SRTMI in such a way that it functions as the umbrella body for all steel- related R&D in India.

Let us innovate and show the world that we can also develop technologies that are world-class and unique.

I am pleased that we are also giving awards to the winners of Prime Minister’s Trophy, Steel Minister’s Trophy and other performers today.

These awards pertain to earlier periods, and it seems it was destined that you receive the awards from me only. Good for me, and I hope you also take it in the same spirit. My heartiest congratulations to all the award winners.

I am sure these awards will continue to serve as a source of encouragement to the winners and inspiration to others.

We need to aspire and strive for accomplishing the benchmarks of performance. Then and only then, we can become a truly world-class steel producing nation.

We have also announced institution of awards for the secondary steel producers on similar lines. Ministry is in the process of finalizing criteria for annually ranking Top 50 Secondary Steel producers, which we would call

“Smart Steel Producers.”

You can see that the whole machinery of Government of India is working as a team to put steel and other industries on fast-track. It is up to the industry now as to how much you can benefit from these initiatives by taking lead and marketing its products.

The steel sector in India has been moving in upward direction since 2014 when Modi ji took charge as Prime Minister. The flight of progress and growth of steel industry has gained enough speed and momentum on the runway in last 2-3 years. Now is the time for take-off and touch commanding heights of success.

Let us all pledge ourselves to work together towards the goal of “Make in Steel for Make in India.” Let us make concerted and whole-hearted efforts to ensure that the steel sector thrives and maintains vibrancy.

My best wishes to the Conference.

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