Lower capacity utilisation and competition with Chinese imports is feared dent the country’s stainless steel industry, industry players have said.

Currently, the stainless steel sector in the country operates at about 55 per cent capacity utilisation of the total installed capacity of 5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

“Stainless steel sector requires government support in the form of encouragement for exports and import restrictions on finished or semi-finished goods,” said Ratan Jindal, chairman of Jindal Steel during a media interaction here. Raising the issue of increasing dependence on imports and under-utilisation of production capacities, Jindal said, “Our imports of stainless steel have doubled in the last year”

Financial institutions have the bank exposure of about ₹30,000 crore to the sector. According to him, in recent years, stainless steel has found applications in areas other than the utensils.

“Stainless steel is used in consumer durables such as washing machines, fridges, ovens as well as entire kitchens. What we are aiming is to increase India’s per capita stainless steel consumption from 1.6 kg a year to that of some of the developed nations.”

Europe has an average per capita stainless steel consumption of about 10 kg, China consumes about 6 kg, and Taiwan about 15 kg. “With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of setting up 100 smart cities in the country, stainless steel consumption will get a boost. But for that policy support will also be required,” he said.