New Delhi: A push to expand basic services like power, housing and transport will boost India’s annual steel demand by 10 percent in the fiscal year to March 2011, Steel Secretary Atul Chaturvedi said on Wednesday.
“Steel demand will continue to rise because a lot of emphasis has been put in the budget on infrastructure development,” Chaturvedi told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.
In its federal budget announced last Friday, India proposed to invest Rs1.73 trillion in infrastructure in 2010-11, a measure cheered by the steel industry .
India plans to build 20 kms of highways a day, up from less than 4 kms a day now, even though land acquisition problems and lack of funds have delayed construction in the past.
“We expect about 10% increase (in steel demand) from the current year’s level,” Chaturvedi said. In the current fiscal year, the demand would rise 9%, higher than the earlier estimate of 8%, he added.
Steel production in 2010-11 could be 65 million tonnes or more, compared with 60-61 million tonnes in the current year, he added.
Steel prices are seen rising on higher factory gate taxes announced in the budget and on brighter demand outlook.
“They (prices) have to go up,” Chaturvedi said when asked whether local steel prices would rise.
At the same conference, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) chairman S.K. Roongta said prices of the metal had been raised after the budget by Rs500-600 ($10.9-$13.0) per tonne.
State-run SAIL is India’s largest steel maker.