Bhubaneswar: The Centre on Friday said it will ensure that steel products are not imported in the guise of utensils or finished products.
"We are keeping an eye on that (import of steel in guise of finished products). We will not allow such kind of practice even in trade," Union Minister of Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh told reporters after addressing a meeting of the National Steel Consumers' Council in Bhubaneswar.
Stating that India has been successful in reducing import of steel by 37 percent during 2016-17, Singh said the reduction of imported steel was mostly from China.
This had happened because of India's anti-dumping measures and also due to withdrawal of the Minimum Import Price (MIP), he said.
"But, one thing which I want to make clear is, can we talk of anti-dumping duty? There is still some steel products, in the guise of utensils or in the guise of finished products, those can... find way to our country," Singh said.
Stating that the steel sector has been growing at a steady Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of about 7 percent, he said the country's steel export registered a 102 percent growth from 4.08 MT in 2015-16 to 8.20 MT in 2016-17.
However, India's per capita steel consumption remained at only 64 kg, which needs to be increased to 160 kg as the country is planning to produce 300 million tons of steel by 2013-31, the Union Minister said.
"We are going to increase the country's steel consumption rate in a big way. As the Centre has earmarked Rs 4 lakh crore for the infrastructure sector, the steel sector should take advantage of it to enhance the consumption rate," Singh said adding, the Railways alone have plans to spend Rs 1.32 lakh crore in its expansion.
Of the Rs 4 lakh crore earmarked for infrastructure sector, the steel sector can easily get 10 per cent of its share, which is estimated to be Rs 40,000 crore.
"We can make maximum use of steel in different infrastructure projects like rail, road, bridge, urban and rural housing, toilets under Swachha Bharat scheme etc," he said.
In August, the Steel Ministry will organise a 15-day long exhibition in different parts of the country along with all stakeholders including integrated steel plants and dealers, to showcase their products so that people use more steel.
The Minister, however, stressed on the production of high-end steel, which he termed as the future of steel industry.
"We have to convert crude steel and semi-finished steel products to high-end steel products. This value addition and diversification will give us better margin and increase our competitiveness," Singh said.
Once the country produces high-ended and better steel, the demand for Indian steel will increase in Vietnam, Cambodia and other African countries, he said adding, the Indian steel sector has evolved as the third largest steel producer in the world and is poised to become the second largest producer putting Indian steel prominently on the global industry map.
On the raw materials for steel industries, the Minister said "85 percent of coking coal is now imported, which adds to the price of steel making. Coal India Limited and Bharat Coking Coal Limited have agreed to set up 12 new coking coal washeries by 2019-20. This will fulfil the demand of coking coal," he said.
Asked about employment provided by the steel sector in the last three years, the Union Minister said the steel sector was passing through a bad phase for the last two years, but the situation has improved in the last 6-8 months. Replying to a question on Odisha, Singh said the state is blessed with valuable minerals.
"When planning to produce 300 MT of steel by 2030-31, we expect Odisha's Kalinga Nagar to become a steel hub and produce 20 percent of the total steel manufactured in India," he said.