Gadkari warns Steel & Cement industry of using alternatives, if prices are not lowered
New Delhi, Jan 25 (KNN) Miffed over the soaring prices of steel, the Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Nitin Gadkari has warned the steel industry of using alternatives like synthetic fibre bars.
According to a report by Times of India, the Minister while speaking at the foundation day of an industry house in Mumbai said the Centre would permit the use of synthetic fibre and composite fibre bars as alternatives to steel products for building roads and bridges.
"Every steel producer has got its own iron ore mines. So, jacking up prices is a type of black marketing and the cement industry is also habitual of this. I am going to settle my issue with them. Now we are planning to allow synthetic fibre in place of steel," Gadkari was quoted as saying by the paper.
"Nearly 40 percent of the steel and cement are used in highway construction. If they don't reduce prices, we will formulate alternative policies," he warned.
On January 11, the Minister had lashed out at the Cement and Steel industry and said they were exploiting the present situation in the real estate market.
“There is a cartel in the cement and steel industry. Every steel company has its own iron ore mines and there has been no increase in labour and power costs but they are increasing rates,” he had said while interacting with Builders' Association of India (BAI), Western Region.
As the steel prices have hit Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), several industry associations have urged the government to ban the export of steel for at least six months.
''Although these mills are earning foreign exchange by exporting steel, it's hampering export of finished goods which attract more value addition. Steel price per Kg ranges between 50-60 per kg whereas goods manufactured like Auto parts, Hand Tools, Bicycle Parts, Sewing Machine Parts sold at Rs 200 to Rs 350 per Kg and it provides employment of 110 Million in MSME in India,'' said Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU).
The Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) has too urged the government to subsidise the steel prices or impose price control in November last year.
The price of steel has risen by 35-40 per cent in the last 3 months, along with zinc and aluminium, which puts the MSMEs in great jeopardy when they are barely able to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
''The touted recovery is in fact seriously impaired by this sudden development,'' KASSIA had said.
The Indian Steel Association (ISA) had too dashed-off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a ban on iron ore export for six months.
"We would like to highlight some of the very serious and compelling reasons which have left the steel industry with no recourse, but to raise prices of steel from time to time," the Steel Association in its letter dated 28 December.
It also informed the Prime Minister Office (PMO) about the price increase of the metal and said, '' A temporary ban of iron ore export for a 6-month period till the situation stabilises is the need of the hour. This will help the domestic steel industry in increasing the availability of iron ore in the country.''
The ISA mentioned issues related to iron ore, price rise of raw materials, shortage in global steel supply and lower capacity utilisation due to COVID-induced disruptions.
The Association of Indian Forging Industry (AIFI) has also urged the Centre to ban exports of steel and iron ore due to high prices which are hampering the growth of India's forging industry.
“Steel prices have increased by 25 to 30 per cent in the last three months, putting the forging industry at serious risk, particularly when we are still recovering from COVID-inflicted business losses and the resultant pressure on cash flow, and cash reserves. The industry is still going through a very difficult time and is not in a position to absorb losses. I believe that rising demand for steel, low steel production for the domestic market due to increased steel exports are the prime reasons for price hikes'', said Vikas Bajaj, President, AIFI.