Editorial – May 2024

The results of the general elections in India were declared on 4th June and the 18th parliament came into existence. The BJP lead National democratic Alliance (NDA) were able to surpass the mid mark of 272 seats and their leader Mr Narendra Modi was invited for the third consecutive time by the President to form the government. Accordingly the first swearing in ceremony was conducted and the new government is now in place. Industry welcomes Mr H D Kumaraswamy as the new Steel Minister of the country.

India took te liberal economy path way back in 1991-92 and as a part of this model, many commodities including steel was de-controlled. This meant that the steel prices were no more controlled by the government and also licence and quota raj in the iron and steel industry came to an end. Now anybody wanting to start steel production could do so without any permission from the government. This really helped the industry and the steel production rose manifold after this, thanks to the private entrepreneurship developed in the country.

Though the government no more controls the industry after the liberalization, it is expected to act as a facilitator for the industry. There are so many issues facing the iron & steel industry in the country and the Steel Ministry being the custodian of the industry, should be addressing these issues on priority basis.

Though we have set an ambitious target of augmenting the steel producing capacity to 300 MTPA by 2030-31, we seem to be falling short by a big margin. There are not enough companies in the country to design and construct the steel plant. With the available resources, it is very clear that we will not be able to reach anywhere near our target. Further, only constructing steel plants is not enough, we have to develop the complete ecosystem like raw material linkages, enhance the production and availability of important inputs like iron ore, coal, lime, ferro alloys, refractories, etc. What is the status of these satellite industries ? In my opinion, far from satisfactory as regards supporting our 300 MTPA target.

When we talk about such a huge target, we can not overlook the human resource factor. The number of metallurgists graduating every year is very very less. Further in many engineering colleges, the branch Metallurgy is merged with Material Science. How can we expect the steel industry to grow unless we produce enough metallurgists ? Also, if we don’t give enough salaries and good working environment, we can not retain them. They will surely search better industries to further their career.

The hon’able Steel Minister is quite familiar with the steel business. I am sure with his able leadership, the Ministry will address these fundamental issues and steer the industry ahead !

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