The Steel Ministry is expecting ₹10,000 crore of investments in specialty steel-making by PLI short-listed companies next year. Nearly ₹16,000 crore is expected by the FY24-end, Nagendra Nath Singh, Union Steel Secretary said.

Also read: Big Story: What’s in store for steel and base metals

The Ministry is looking into the issue of increasing imports, which looks temporary.

In an interview to businessline, Sinha talks about the PLI scheme, working with the industry to minimise CBAM impact, reworking FTAs, maintaining the consumption momentum, among others. Edited excerpts:


How has the PLI scheme played out?

Under the PLI scheme, 57 MoUs have been executed for an investment of ₹29,500 crore with an additional capacity addition of 25 mt by FY28.

Our December review showed that selected companies have invested about ₹12,900 crore already, against an investment commitment of ₹21,000 crore up to the current financial year. It is expected that another ₹3,000 crore will be invested by FY24-end. Thus about ₹16,000 crore of a total of ₹29,500 crore will be invested by FY24.

Another ₹10,000 crore of investment is being envisaged by the PLI companies in FY25.

It may also be mentioned that five units have begun production and 9 more units are expected to begin production by March quarter-end.


But, green steel is yet to take off?

The first pilot project for use of green hydrogen under stainless steel was launched by the Union Steel Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia on March 4. Tata Steel has already conducted trials and some other companies have their own plans.

The National Mission on Green Hydrogen is supporting pilot projects in the steel sector with a budget of around ₹500 crore until FY30.


The CBAM concerns still loom large.

Europe is an important destination for Indian steel exports. Our Ministry is in consultation with the Commerce Ministry, to take up at the appropriate forum, the concerns of our exporters. Some of the discussions are going on with the European Union and other agencies for mutually beneficial outcomes.

We are also looking to have stakeholder feedback during the just commenced implementation phase of reporting obligation.


Are the FTA reviews under-way?

The Government has been negotiating for melt-and-pour norms. The product-specific rules of origin will ensure that only those steel products melted and poured in the country with which we are having the trade agreement will be allowed to be traded.

This also means, FTA benefits are available only to genuine manufacturers of another country, rather than those who re-route their products to India.


But imports are up, mostly from China. Is this worrying?

Steel is a deregulated sector. Fluctuations in international trade are influenced by the prevailing global market conditions. We think India’s mature steel industry has the capability to weather these. The steel import situation is gradually improving. Shipments coming in are being closely monitored for its impact on the Indian market too.


Any policy intervention?

Not yet. Stakeholder consultation is an ongoing process for any corrective action. National policies are long term in nature. So these short-term fluctuations in global or domestic markets are not the right way to address the outcome.


But can we hold on to our high consumption and demand numbers?

The growth in steel production (126 mt for 11M FY24, up 13 per cent) and consumption over the last couple of years defied global trends. It is backed by a 7 – 8 per cent economic growth and a subsequent increase in capital expenditure - from 2.8 per cent of GDP in FY14 to 4.5 per cent in 2023-24 (BE).

Targeted spending under the national infrastructure pipeline will further boost consumption.

Domestic steel consumption is 68 per cent towards infra-building & construction, 22 per cent for engineering and packaging, 9 per cent towards auto sector and 1 per cent in defence.

India’s per capita steel consumption is up by 12 per cent to 86.7 kg per capita in 2022-23, from 77.2 kg per capita in 2021-22. We are on course to achieve 158 kg per capita consumption by 2030-31.