In the present scenario of a global downturn, it is crucial for the domestic steel units to adopt cost-cutting measures to stay afloat. The Government policies should also help the industry in these difficult times, according to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd Chairman and Managing Director P.K Rath.

He was delivering the key-note address at the one-day seminar on cost-effective technologies and market for long products, organised by the magazine, Steel and Metallurgy.

He said the long-term prospects for steel market were very promising, but in the short term the vicissitudes had to be weathered, as it was a cyclical market. The Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd - Visakhapatnam Steel Plant was adopting all possible cost-cutting measures and producing quality steel catering to the market needs.

Rath said the forged wheel plant of the RINL at Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh would be ready for commissioning in September. "We have all the facilities in our integrated steel plant. We are hopeful of better days soon, though the first quarter was not very encouraging," he said.

He said it was necessary for the steel industry to adopt eco-friendly measures and to invest in such technologies and also boost steel consumption in rural India.

Nirmalya Mukherjee, who moderated the debate, said the Centre’s plan to invest Rs 20 lakh crore on infra development would give a tremendous boost to the steel sector.

Sanjay Agarwal, the senior vice-president (sales and marketing), of JSW Steel Ltd, said fund availability was one of the biggest problems plaguing the industry and the Government should also announce a stimulus package for all sectors, including the auto sector. He said the steel units should invest in capacity addition even in these difficult times and then only they can hope to reap rich rewards when the tide turns.

Subrata Mitra, the Joint Managing Director of M.N Dastur and Co. Ltd, a consultant, said there was a bright future even for the smaller steel units with a capacity of 1 or 1.5 million tonnes, if the plants are properly designed and the right technologies are adopted.

Krishna Rao, the Director of Vizag Profiles Limited, a secondary steel producer, said the banks were not lending to the secondary producers and the smaller units, making it difficult for them to survive in the present market conditions.