Govt plans mega-merger of all steel R&D bodies
The steel ministry is planning to bring a Cabinet note to merge all its research bodies under an umbrella institute Steel Research & Technology Mission of India, an official said.
The development comes against the backdrop of Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh expressing displeasure over PSUS not developing appetite for special steel production despite India being the world's third largest producer of the metal.
"A Cabinet note is likely soon to bring different institutions and organisations for research and development under the administrative control of steel ministry under a single umbrella Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI)," a steel ministry official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.
SRTMI as an umbrella body will be a brilliant example of 'minimum government & maximum governance', the official said.
"We may become the second largest steel producer but we can become leaders only if we lead in research for high-end and better steel & processes of steel-making...there is a need for innovation, out-of-box-thinking, research and development in the steel industry," the steel minister said.
Lamenting that India is still dependent on imports for some products, Singh said there is need to develop technologies to produce electrical grade and auto grade steel in the country to become self sufficient and research is needed for it.
The specialised steel will fetch better prices in the international market, the steel minister said, adding research and development in the industry is almost negligible or has been scattered and duplication of efforts is a hindrance to research on a large scale.
Earlier this month, he had said private players were doing better than the PSUS who spent Rs 60,000 crore on expansion and modernisation their units but did not enter into the arena of producing special steel.
All major institutions, primarily related to steel research in India, may be brought under the ambit of SRTMI, the ministry official said, adding the overarching body is taking shape and a director to head SRTMI will be selected soon.
"This is going to be a game-changer for Indian Steel industry in the times to come . ... It would bring a silent revolution in the sector, with coming together of all steel- related stakeholders on a single platform," he added. Institute of Steel Development & Growth (INSDAG), which was primarily meant to promote steel consumption in the country is proposed to get a boost with its assimilation with SRTMI, according to the official.
"Besides institutions like BPNSI, Centres of Excellence, Chairs in different Universities and NISST are also proposed to be brought under the purview of SRTMI," the official said adding, skill development & training will also be under the umbrella of SRTMI. This will lead to better industry-academia interface at national level, and concerted and uniform communication and information dissemination from one authentic source, he said.
The Ministry of Steel has facilitated an Industry driven institutional mechanism - SRTMI - to facilitate joint collaborative research projects in the iron & steel sector in India.
SRTMI has been setup as a registered society and will be
governed and administered by a governing body comprising the steel CEOS, experts and a representative of the Ministry of Steel.
The government had earlier said the initial corpus for setting up of SRTMI is Rs 200 crore of which 50 per cent is to be provided by the steel ministry and the balance by the participating steel companies.
"Thereafter, the centre will run on yearly contributions from the steel companies based on their turnover of the previous year," it has said. The R&D investment of the leading steel companies in India in terms of percentage of their turnover ranges from 0.05 to 0.5 per cent as against up to 1 per cent in leading steel companies internationally.
SURGING STEEL DEMAND PROMPTS SAIL TO TARGET HIGHER MARKET SHARE
Armed with latest technologies and higher product mix, SAIL aims to tap big into the steel demand in India, which is projected to become "the fifth- largest economy" this year, its Chairman P K Singh said on Friday.
Addressing the 45th annual general meeting of the stateowned Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) here, Singh said the steel demand in India will witness a significant growth in future, given the current stage of development in Indian economy.
The World Steel Association, in its short range outlook, has forecast 6.1 per cent growth in steel consumption for India in 2017, the SAIL chief added.
According to Singh, the domestic steel demand is improving on the back of government policies and developmental goals, and SAIL is expeditiously equipping itself to serve market requirements fully and claim a broader market share. "SAIL with newer and better technologies at its disposal aims to leverage potential of growth in steel demand by operating at rated capacities, product differentiation and customer satisfaction," Singh said. The chairman also shared the company's efforts towards product value addition.
"SAIL has done significant value addition in its product mix, with higher grades of steel... from Rourkela Steel Plant's new plate mill for the oil and gas sector, SAIL HT-600 for the automotive sector and high strength LPG steel grade from Bokaro Steel Plant, etc," Singh said. At Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), the world's longest single piece rail of 130 metres is being produced and supplies of welded 260 metres rail panels to the Indian Railways are in progress. Besides, a 3 mtpa hot strip mill in Rourkela is slated to be installed by 2018.
He further said, "World economic recovery is on track... and presents a healthy sign for industrial and manufacturing activities across globe. India is projected to become the world's fifth-largest economy in 2017, surpassing UK and France and the world's third largest economy by 2023, surpassing Japan and Germany."
Such kind of growth will definitely create larger steel demand and boost consumption in country, the chairman added. Listing out the achievements of SAIL, Singh said the company since inception has produced 475 million tonnes (mt) of crude steel and partnered in all major national projects requiring steel. The company is also taking initiatives towards remodelling its operations.