Proposed National Steel Policy to get more teeth

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The proposed National Steel Policy (NSP) that would replace the 2005 norms is expected to be more robust and focus on regulatory hurdles, taxation issues and infrastructure bottlenecks. Besides, the policy would address the industry’s increasing dependence on imports by increasing production.

An experts committee under Steel Secretary P K Misra was set up to draft the new policy to suit the industry’s changing dynamics. The ministry is also planning to ensure that Indian companies secure raw material assets more aggressively.

According to officials in the Ministry of Steel, the draft policy is expected to be ready by December. Once the draft is ready, an inter-ministerial panel will discuss the proposed changes and then the final report would be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

The committee, comprising 11 members, will look into the reports of the task force set up by the steel ministry — on issues relating to environment, raw material, economical and infrastructure – before drawing up the final draft.

“This will also take into account the problems in increasing capacity. We should make India a reliable exporter of quality steel rather than being a net importer. It would also look into boosting capacity expansion based on existing facts. The industry has undergone huge changes since 2005. It will also make the industry take informed decision about investment in new capacities,” Misra told Business Standard.

The steel industry, of late, has been facing severe problems following delays in projects, obtaining necessary environmental clearances, allocation of mines, protests against land acquisition and high input costs. Besides, the industry is getting increasingly dependent on imports.

“The new policy would also try to address issues which are hindering capacity expansion — whether they be regulatory framework or the infrastructure or the government’s policies on taxation. The present policy had projected an annual growth in steel demand at 6.9 per cent, whereas it is growing in excess of nine per cent at present,” said Misra.

Steel imports have soared to 7.3 million tonnes in 2009-10 from 1.4 million tonnes in 2001-02. Several mega steel projects of both foreign and domestic steel conglomerates have not been able to start production — either they have not got necessary environmental clearances, problems with land acquisition or issues regarding allocation of mines.

South Korean steel-maker POSCO received a green signal for its $12 billion project in Orissa earlier this month, but with several riders.

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