Ministry to Reduce Dependency on Steel for Highway Construction
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways & the Minister of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Mr Nitin Gadkari during a webinar announced that the Road Transport Ministry is setting up a committee under the chairmanship of Mr K Venkataramanan to reduce the dependency on steel and cement to reduce the cost of construction and look for alternatives. Mr Gadkari said that “All steel, whether produced from ore, billets, pellets, or melting of scrap, would be allowed to be used for National Highway construction, as long as it meets the standards required for specific grades of steel. The steel proposed to be used would be tested in NABL-accredited laboratories as a third-party check before approval.”
Mr Gadkari has been raising concerns over steel price hikes. Mr Gadkari while speaking at a virtual event of Builders Association of India on 9 January 2021 had said “Regarding steel and cement, this is really a problem for all of us. Actually, I feel this is a cartel by some big people are doing in cement and steel. All the players in the steel industry have their own iron ore mines, and do not have to face any hikes in labour or power rates, why the steel industry has been hiking prices."
Mr Gadkari on 24 January had again highlighted the need to explore alternatives to steel as well as cement, for bringing down their prices. He had said "Steel prices have increased by 65% in the last six months. Steel and cement rates will reduce once cheaper alternatives are available.”
On April7, Mr Gadkari in an exclusive interview with ET told “They should be brought under control. I will write to the PM about this. If this continues, how will roads be built, how will we implement the PM Awas Yojana, how will MSMEs survive? The imbalance created by cement companies will not be tolerated. They are forming a cartel and increasing prices. MSMEs are facing trouble because of this.”