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CSE releases green ratings for Indian steel sector
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Tuesday, 05 Jun 2012

The Indian steel sector has a long way to go in meeting environmental norms, finds CSE green rating survey released on eve of World Environment Day with Ispat Industries in Raigad (Now JSW Ispat), Essar Steel in Hazira and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited in Visakhapatnam declared as the top 3 performers.

This unique assessment of the iron and steel sector in India has emerged from a unique rating of the industry done by Centre for Science and Environment’s Green Rating Project. The ratings were released by Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, Union minister of state for environment and forests (independent charge).

The GRP has analyzed all the top steelmaking plants in the country to find out how ‘green and clean’ the sector is how much resources it uses, how much it emits, how it disposes its wastes, and how it deals with issues of local communities.

The GRP rating process is extremely rigorous, independent, participatory and transparent. The GRP rates companies that agree to participate voluntarily as well as those who do not. Data is collected from many sources, including industry, and verified by plant and site visits.

On the basis of its findings, the Project also confers the Five Leaves Awards on the plants, which are rated the most environmental friendly.

In the case of the iron and steel sector, 21 companies, with over 0.5 million tonnes of annual capacity, were rated on over 150 parameters - from technology to process efficiency and from pollution to occupational health and safety and compliance. The rating of steel sector took two years to complete.

As a whole, the sector received a mere 19% marks and the One Leaf Award. This has to be compared to rating of the an equally polluting sector, cement sector, which in 2005 got 36 per cent and Three Leaves Award. It shows that this core sector, which includes the biggest and most powerful names in Indian industry, has a long way to go.

Of the 21, three companies scored over 35%marks and got the Three Leaves: they are Ispat Industries, in Raigad district of Maharashtra, Essar Steel in Hazira (Gujarat) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL or Vizag Steel), based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

The Three Leaves Award represents ‘average’ performance under GRP.

TATA Steel of Jamshedpur was at the fifth spot, while Jindal Steel and Power of Raigarh was at the ninth. SAIL plants in general were found be non transparent and non compliant. Only the SAIL Rourkela plant participated and got a One Leaf Award; the rest Bhilai, Durgapur, Bokaro and Burnpur did not participate in the Project voluntarily. Hence, they were rated on the basis of available information and found to be poor (pdf see attached sheet).

Some of the other key findings of the GRP rating exercise were:

1. The Indian iron and steel sector’s energy consumption of 6.6 GCal/tonne is about 50% higher than the global best practice.

2. Process water consumption, excluding power generation, townships and other downstream operations, is a high 3.5 m3/tonne - over three times the global best practice.

3. The large-scale plants were found to be highly wasteful on land. They have close to 1,200 hectares (ha) of land per million tonne of installed capacity; a well-designed plant does not need more than 200 ha. If all the residual land with steel plants were to be properly utilised, the industry can produce more than 300 million tonnes steel, not the 75 million tonnes it is producing today. In fact, the steel industry will not need extra land till 2025.

4. Most steel plants were found to be non compliant with pollution norms.

Ms Sunita Narain director general of CSE said “The poor environmental performance of this sector is a measure of the failure of the regulatory institutions in the country. Nobody is asking this sector to improve its green bottom-line. Nobody is measuring and monitoring its actual performance. We should not be surprised. The country has worked to decimate its pollution regulatory paraphernalia the steel sector is a hard reminder of this.”

Mr Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and head of the Green Rating Program, pointed out, “The iron and steel sector’s score is the lowest compared with the other sectors that GRP has rated previously. In fact, the steel sector not only has the worst pollution compliance record, it was also found to be highly non-transparent and poor on information disclosure.”

According to Chandra Bhushan, what the GRP exercise has found about the iron and steel sector points to a worrying future, which calls for immediate corrective action. The sector is rapidly expanding: within a decade, it has moved from being a 24 million tonne industry to a 70 million tonne behemoth, and is aspiring to the 300 million tonne target in the next two decades. If the business as usual continues, the steel sector will create insurmountable environmental and social problems.

Mr Bhushan added “The future road map for the sector is clear. It will have to reduce its ecological footprints drastically, invest in health and safety of its workers and treat local communities as stakeholders and beneficiaries. Plants will have to halve their energy use, use only that much water which is needed for evaporative losses and thus stop discharging wastewater, and recycle and reuse their solid wastes. And they will have to take measures to reduce air emissions significantly.”

Source - CSE


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