India is all set to be the second largest steel producing country after China by the year 2015, with the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) undertaking massive modernisation and expansion plans and new capacities being created in the private sector.
Addressing a golden jubilee celebrations of SAIL, minister for steel, chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan said he was confident of India's steel industry facing up to the challenges confronting the steel sector in the context of the recent economic downturn.
"We are already the world's fifth-largest steel producer and are poised to clinch the second slot by 2015 on the back of the capacity expansion lined up by the companies," Paswan said on the sidelines of the golden jubilee celebrations of state-run SAIL.
The steel ministry has already advanced the country's steel production target to 124 million by 2012 instead of 2020, envisaged in the National Steel Policy 2005, he said.
While the steel sector has been particularly hit by production cuts and price reductions worldwide, in India, the steel sector has, however, not been affected severely like other countries, he said.
The government, he said, has taken a series of steps, including hike in import duty and reduction in excise duty as well as import restrictions on HR coils, to reduce the impact of slowdown on the steel sector.
He also praised the vision of the first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of the mixed economy that has helped the country to reduce the impact of the global meltdown.
At present, Indian companies, including SAIL, Tata Steel, JSW Steel, Essar, JSPL and Ispat Industries produce about 55 million tonnes of steel per annum.
He said, India, already the fifth largest steel producer in the world, will soon achieve the global norms of production.
Paswan also released a commemorative postal stamp and presented a commemoration medallion to SAIL chairman SK Roongta on the occasion. Two former employees, one each from Rourkela and Bhillai Steel Plant associated with lighting of the first blast furnace were felicitated on the occasion.