Inter ministerial group meet on steel postponed again

Inter ministerial group meet on steel postponed again

New Delhi: The meeting of the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG), set up to facilitate investments in the booming steel sector, slated tomorrow has been postponed again to October 30.

IMG was formed to address various issues creating bottlenecks impeding the estimated investment of 2,76,880 crore in the sector over the next five years.

The meeting had to be postponed as the Orissa government has said it would not be able to participate due to Durga Puja celebrations.

Earlier, the meeting scheduled for 8 October had to be postponed by 10 days as top officials of the Steel Ministry and SAIL Chairman Sushil Kumar Roongta was in Europe attending the International Iron and Steel Institute meeting.

“We envisage an invstment of 276,880 crore in the steel sector by 2011-12. The IMG, which has been constituted to delve into various issues impeding these investments, will deliberate on them when it meets on 30 October," a top Steel Ministry official told PTI.

The key issues to be discussed are ensuring adequate iron ore resources to the steel utilities, including foreign steel giants like ArcelorMittal and Posco.

“After a detailed scrutiny of the current steel scenario, we found that steel production by 2012 is likely to be at 12.06 million tonnes (MT) per annum. This will necessitate 198 MT of iron ore by the same period and 48 MT by 2019-20" the official pointed out.

Steel companies have said they would require iron ore mines for their expansion plans he said, adding that proven reserves would be leveraged to ensure supply.

The possibility of opening up more coal blocks for major steel projects and seek their expeditious allocation would also be discussed by the group. Many steel firms have sought allocation of coal blocks in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has sought Mandakini, Fatehpur East, Ganeshpur and Gourangdih blocks, while Arcelor Mittal has sought Mandakini and Rampia Dipside of Rampia for its proposed captive power plants in Orissa and Ganeshpur and Saragarha blocks for the Jharkhand project.

“Environmental issues impeding the investments will also come up for discussion. Present environment clearance policy needs amendment for faster and transparent clearance of mega projects," the official said.

SAIL has been awaiting environmental clearance for Budhaburu, Dhoil and Singhbhum (W) for the past three years.

Major steel utilities have announced massive capacity expansions. SAIL is carrying out its modernisation programmes to ramp up its production capacity to more than 24 million tonnes, while Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) is executing a corporate plan to increase production capacity to more than 6 MT by 2011-12.

Besides, Tata Steel has announced plans to increase production to 13 MT from the current 5 MT, while Essar Steel would up its capacity to 14.5 MT from 4.6 MT and JSW to 11 MT from current 4.1 MT, he said.

Among the greenfield projects pledged by steel utilities are 3 MT by Tata Steel, 6 MT by Essar, 5 MT by BSPL, 1 MT by Monnet Ispat.