There are immense opportunities in rural India to foster steel demand. Union Minister for Steel and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan said while speaking on the role of India’s steel sector in the growth and prosperity of Indian villages and in making rural economy strong and self-reliant in a webinar, ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Fostering Steel Usage in Rural Economy’, organised by Ministry of Steel in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Tuesday.
I am glad to see that stakeholders from steel, agriculture, rural development, animal husbandry and dairy coming together for this webinar, the minister said. He informed that government had started disbursing Rs. 1,00,000 crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund with many new sectors being included in the priority sector. “We are developing 5,000 Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) plants across the country. Reserve Bank of India has recently included CBG in the priority sector. We are working on to make ethanol from rice. The mission to ensure housing for all, investments in rural roads, railway infra augmentation and impetus to agriculture will all create greater steel demand. Enhancing per-capita steel consumption is in the interest of all,” he said. Pradhan mentioned that rural India holds key to enhancing per-capita steel usage in the country. It would bring greater strength to society, ensure rural development and create jobs.
Speaking on the occasion, Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, said that the path to realising the clarion call of Aatmanirbhar Bharat goes through Aatmanirbhar villages. He mentioned that steel as a strength giving material has to play an important role in making our villages strong and self-reliant. Tomar said that the shift in rural demand during the last few years had been encouraging. He said that ability of rural consumers spending had improved by policy support, development efforts, farm loan waivers, higher minimum support prices, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), and a rural development-focused budgetary process.
“There are immense opportunities available in rural areas covering rural infrastructure development projects, food processing, rural housing, food storage, agriculture equipment manufacturing among others to foster steel usage. Rising rural economy is opening up new opportunities for greater steel usage. Key government missions like PM Awas Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, MSP were improving lives and strengthening rural economy also involve greater steel usage”.
He said that growth in other areas like energy, dairying, fisheries, food processing and agri-equipments would also have a positive bearing on the steel consumption in rural areas. He also suggested formation of a working group to look into the requirement of steel in the rural sector and map it to the domestic steel production. This would enable better co-ordination, planned approach to co-creating framework for greater use of domestic steel in rural areas. Tomar expressed hope that the discussions today would provide useful insights about key growth drivers, issues, challenges and opportunities for fostering domestic steel usage in the rural sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Steel said that our government had taken several initiatives to transform the rural landscape. This webinar has been organised to tap the vast potential available for iron and steel sector in rural economy which is growing at a much faster rate. He said that the webinar would provide a much needed and effective platform to the industry and stakeholders to deliberate upon future need of steel in these sectors because of government focus on rural economy. He highlighted that strong rural liquidity sustained by higher minimum support price (MSP) for crops and supporting prices of agricultural produce; enhanced employment opportunities under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and other government schemes; adequate credit availability; and replacement demand all are helping to improve rural economy and consequently increasing steel demand from rural sector.