The Union Ministry of Steel will launch a national survey soon to assess the per capita steel consumption of rural India covering around 300 districts and 1,500 villages.

Inaugurating a conference on ‘Diversifying and enhancing India’s steel consumption,’ organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here on Friday, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh said a nation-wide survey on ‘rural steel consumption and demand’ would be conducted by the Joint-Plant Committee (JPC) of his Ministry. The last survey was carried out about 5-6 years ago when the per capita steel consumption in countryside was 2 kg.

“There is definitely some improvement over the last 2-3 years, considering that a large number of infrastructure and rural housing projects have been taken up under various schemes of the government,” Mr. Singh added.

India’s steel consumption rose by 5.7 per cent to 26.49 million tonnes in the first six months of the current fiscal over the same period a year ago. The World Steel Association expects the country’s steel demand to grow by about nine per cent in 2009. “If this growth is sustained, our per capita steel consumption will cross 100 kg by 2015 from 47 kg at present,” Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Singh said based on the survey findings, the Ministry would orient a strategy for an accelerated steel consumption growth in rural India in concurrence with the government’s programme for a vibrant and developing ‘Gramin Bharat’.

Mr. Singh urged producers to ensure stability in steel prices while deciding on the market price of common varieties of steel used for mass consumption.

“For steel to be acceptable, in preference to other replacements, the common man must find that it is affordable and cost effective. The private sector steel units must follow the lead taken by PSUs in opening rural distribution networks and see that their products of mass consumption are easily available in the remotest parts of the country at affordable prices,” he added.

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