SECTION 1: STEEL - 2020
Common world opinion is that India is on the threshold of becoming
a developed country and that it will be a global power by 2020 if it continues on the development path of the past few years.
It is also an established fact that steel plays an important part in a nation’s development and per capita steel consumption
is considered a good indicator of industrial development. What, then, is the ground reality in India?
First, the current per capita steel consumption in India, at a dismal 29 kg, is only at the level of an under-developed country, let
alone a developing one. Generally, depending on land area and population, developing countries have 50 to 250 kg per capita
consumption. Second, the current proportion of flat to long product consumption in India, at about 55% to 45% is alarmingly tilted towards the flat products and is
a consumption pattern normally found in near developed countries. These two facts are significant and indicate that we have
very small pockets of high development alongside major areas in the country in a state of negligible development. Thus, large
amount of work remains to be done in development of the country as a whole.
The government is apparently seized of this anomaly and has over the past few
years visibly begun to set right matters. The Joint Plant Committee has estimated steel consumption at a conservative 100
million tonnes (mT) in 2018. This may not be enough for India
to keep its appointment of being considered as a developed nation by 2020. While we may have by that time many more areas
of high development as per world standards, the country as a whole would still have large areas inadequately developed. For visible
development in all parts of the nation in the years up to 2020, India
will need to -
- Raise its per capita
consumption to at least 100 kg or about 140mT steel per year, and
- Correct its flat to long product
ratio to around 45% flat and 55% long.
Besides steel consumption, the other main change will be regarding the type of
steel reinforcement bars (rebars) used in the country. The pattern for over three decades has been total reliance on cold
twisted deformed (CTD) rebars – even though most developed countries in the world had stopped its usage within a few
years of its introduction and patent. It is foreseen that finally the same is about to happen in India with the introduction of "Quenched & Tempered" (Q&T) rebars in recent years. CTD
rebars are now in the last stages in the country and it is only a matter of time before India too starts to go the global way. The stagnancy seen in the country and the
‘closed market’ conditions that prevailed during the 5 decades since Independence
has been a period of ‘losses’ to the nation and a ‘gain’ for CTD. Unfortunately, even the steel majors
that took to manufacture world class Q&T rebars in the 1980s and 1990s could not propagate amongst the civil engineers,
knowledge about their superior product for a very long time. (To complicate matters, they incorrectly labelled their Q&T
bars as "TMT" bars - and this has given rise to various other problems.)
One must necessarily look at what is happening globally before attempting a forecast