Date: February 18, 2020.
Venue: The Lalit, New Delhi.
Organiser: FIRST Construction Council.
Collaboration, adoption of new technologies and focus on sustainable manufacturing practices will enable the Indian steel industry to become a global force, a cross-section of industry experts averred at the third edition of the Make in Steel conference in New Delhi in February. They also said that given the country’s need for new infrastructure projects and consistent GDP growth, the opportunities that would be created for all stakeholders were huge.
Guest of Honour AK Khandelwal, Executive Director (TKMC), Railway Board, explained that developments like electrification of railway lines, construction of pedestrian bridges, the introduction of high-speed railways and complete mechanisation of maintenance-related work will all create a huge business opportunity. For instance, the Indian Railways’ order for maintenance equipment alone is estimated at Rs.120 billion.
“There is a huge market and we are planning an investment of Rs.8.5 trillion on infrastructure development at Indian Railways over the next five years,” shared Khandelwal. “This would need a lot of steel. At least 20 million tonne (mt) of new rakes will be required annually. This would also need some high-grade steel. About 7 mt of steel will be required for building wagons, coaches and other infrastructure.”
According to estimates, the public-sector transporter directly or indirectly consumes up to 15 per cent of the total steel produced in India.
While sounding caution in the backdrop of the ongoing US-China trade war and the coronavirus pandemic, N Sainathan, Chief Sales Manager (North India), Tata Steel, called for greater teamwork within the industry.
“For this industry to grow, every participant in the value chain needs to elevate their role to become more efficient and value accretive,” he opined. “I would like to take the example of the automobile industry, which 20 years ago used to import 30-40 per cent of its steel because the domestic industry was unable to provide the desired quality or service. But today that has reduced to less than 5 per cent. This has been made possible by the partnership between the steel companies and automakers.”
Need to standardise
The experts also agreed that despite overtaking Japan to become the world’s No. 2 steelmaker, India’s steel sector needed to address a multitude of challenges. One priority area was to significantly encourage domestic steel consumption. The share of steel-based construction in India is around 10 per cent while in the developed Western economies, it hovers at nearly 80 per cent.
The forum also raised the demand for the rollout of a proper code for steel-intensive buildings. In this regard, speakers said that China’s much-acclaimed feat of constructing a 1,000-bed hospital for coronavirus patients in a matter of days was made possible only because of the successful implementation of such a framework there.
V Suresh, Chief General Manager & Regional Manager (Northern Region), Steel Authority of India (SAIL), said that the sector played a critical role in not only GDP growth but job creation.
“The steel industry is an important constituent in the growth and development of an economy. The performance of the steel industry has a major bearing on industry segments such as infrastructure, construction, peripherals, etc, with the multiplier effect of 1.4 times on GDP. But the greater impact comes from employment generation, where the multiplier effect is
around 6.8,” he emphasised.
He felt that the low percentage use of steel in housing and other construction was attributable to the inability to both provide and accurately gauge the quantity and quality of steel required. He sought for the immediate revision of the BIS 800 code regarding the use of steel in construction to include high-grade steels.“The other issue is about design,” Suresh added. “There is somehow a mismatch between what we can produce, what we intend to produce and what is required by the industry. Although architects and designers appreciate that steel-intensive construction is the way forward, there is a reluctance due to reasons such as availability and acceptance by the end-user. So, we need a forum and, perhaps, Make in Steel can help us in this regard to
Hervinder Singh, President & Business Unit Head-Long Products, Jindal Steel & Power, made a forceful pitch for a cleaner steel industry through the use of greener technologies that helped curb pollution and prevent wastage of resources. “The focus should be on making quality steel of higher strength through a cost-effective production process,” he opined.
Earlier, welcoming the delegates to the conference, Pratap Padode, Founder & President, First Construction Council (FCC), said, “The year has begun on a tumultuous note. But I think through challenges also emerge top stories. When some leading multinationals and foreign companies come here for the first time, they don’t look at the chaos. They look at the opportunities. Because if everything were hunky-dory, why would there be a need for new infrastructure or new buildings? ”FCC, which had organised the event, is an infrastructure think tank dedicated to serving the causes and needs of the Indian construction sector.
It was established in 2003.
Two panel discussions, ‘Smart Steel for Smart Urbanisation: New Products and Dimensions in Steel’ and ‘Growing Use of Stainless Steel’, were organised during the day-long conference. Panellists included Arun Sahai, COO, Ahluwalia Contracts; Rajiv Nehru, Director-Product Development & Training, RICS South Asia; Mili Majumdar, Managing Director, GBCI India; S Krishnakumar, CEO Building Solutions, Everest Industries; Sahil Agarwal, Senior Technologist, Tata Steel; Debashis Dutta, Structural Engineer, Institute for Steel Development & Growth; and NK Vijayvargia, Consultant, Indian Stainless Steel Development Association.
The report TMT ReBar: A Key Pillar in Indian Infrastructure was also released at the Make in Steel 2020 conference. This one-of-its-kind analysis on reinforcement bars – also called thermo-mechanically treated (TMT) bars – has come to be regarded as an important study in its segment.
- Manish Pant
Unveiling the report on TMT Rebar: A Key Pillar in India’s Infrastructure: (Extreme left) Tanveer Padode, Manager-Operations, FIRST Construction Council; (third from L-R) Ashwani Kumar Bhatia, MD, ARS Steels; Debasish Ghosh, GM-Marketing, SRMB Srijan; Hervinder Singh, President & BU Head-Long Products, Jindal Steel & Power; Pratap Padode, Founder & President, FIRST Construction Council; AK Khandelwal, ED (TKMC), Railway Board; N Sainathan, Chief Sales Manager, Northern Region, Tata Steel; V Suresh, Chief GM & Regional Manager (NR), SAIL; Amit Kishanpuria, Director, Jaideep Ispat & Alloys; Abinash Pathak, Marketing Manager, Super Smelters; Ritesh Jain, Head-Marketing, Kamachi Industries.
CEO Forum: (L-R) Arun Sahai, COO, Ahluwalia Contracts; S Krishnakumar, CEO-Building Solutions Everest Industries; Mili Majumdar, MD, GBCI India; N Sainathan; Rajiv Nehru, Director-Product Development & Training, RICS South Asia; Sahil Agarwal, Senior Technologist-Application Support Group, Product Technology, Tata Steel.