The ‘severe shortage' of special steels for building airports, railway stations, stadia and other large structures has prevented architects from using more steel instead of concrete in infrastructure projects, said JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal on Wednesday.

Speaking at the inauguration of JSW Severfield Structures' new specialty steel plant here, about 30 km from Bellary, Mr. Jindal said the 50:50 joint venture between JSW Steel and U.K.-based Severfield Bowen had already raised orders worth about 10 million pound (Rs.80 crore). “We expect the order book to double within two weeks,” said Severfield Chief Executive Officer Tom Haughey.

Mr. Haughey said the 35,000-tonne per annum plant was mostly aimed at meeting the requirements of the domestic market. The plant, employing about 250 persons, was already supplying steel for a heavy industry unit, a power plant, a commercial office building and a residential complex, he added. The plant, established at a cost of 25 million pound (Rs.200 crore), was likely to be expanded to 90,000 tonnes annually in phase two of the project.

Mr. Haughey said the company would be utilising expatriate labour from Dubai initially to work at the construction sites. “This will cut our learning curve sharply,” he said. Mr. Haughey pointed out that while in the U.K. steel accounted for about 60-70 per cent of the ‘construction spend,' it was only 5 per cent in India.

Mr. Jindal said the joint venture was exploring the possibility of establishing plants with similar capacities for supplying markets in the North and the East. “We may establish a plant in West Bengal,” he added. He said the joint venture had the advantage of being able to source steel from JSW Steel, which would reduce delays for supply for projects. Steel used in structurals could reduce cost and time delays and enable structures to be earthquake-resistant, he added. The per capita consumption of steel in India was only 60 kg, compared to the global average of 200 kg and 400 kg in China, he pointed out.

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