Asian News International reported that India’s Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Mr Nitin Gadkari on January 10 said there is a cartel working in the cement & steel industry, and pitched for reforms in order for faster completion of the projects. While interacting with the Builders' Association of India Western Region via video conferencing Mr Gadkari said "There is a cartel in cement & steel industry. Every steel company has its own iron ore mines & there has been no increase in labour & power costs but they are increasing rates. It is difficult for me to understand the reason behind it.”
He said "We are planning to implement infrastructure projects worth INR 111 lakh crores in next 5 years. If rates of steel & cement continue like this, it’ll be very difficult for us.”
Mr Gadkari also pitched for regulators for these sectors. He told “We are in the process of finding out the solution for that. BAI’s one of the recommendations is for a regulator for steel and cement, which is also a good suggestion. I will look into it.”
The minister added that he has discussed the issue with the Prime Minister and had a lengthy discussion on it with the Principal Secretary in the PMO as well.
Associations representing small steel using industries around Ludhiana have welcomed Mr Gadkari’s response to curb steel price surge. Sewing Machine Development Club President Mr Jagbir Singh Sokhi told Times of India “Due to huge fluctuations in the rates of steel raw material, that too without any justification, we were having sleepless nights. In case of the sewing machine industry alone, the rate of the raw material, especially pig iron, has increased by about 30% in the past five months. As the steel ministry failed to pay heed to our pleas for help, we took up the matter with the MSME ministry, that’s how minister Gadkari came into the picture. He has also assured to consider our demand for formation of a steel regulatory body to monitor and control rates in the country. We are hopeful that the step will bear fruit.”
Ludhiana Beopar Mandal President Mr Maninder Pal Guliani told Times of India “Recently, our association exposed the misdeeds of the steel cartel, which was causing unprecedented increase in rates. There are some raw materials whose rates were hiked by almost INR 17,000 per tonne during the past six months, but the steel ministry failed to act. We are thankful to MSME minister Gadkari who raised the issue. We hope this will have some impact on the markets. But if the government is really serious about this issue, then it should first scrap all import duties on steel and impose a total ban on export of steel goods and raw material.”