Buoyed by the Central government’s continued focus on infrastructure projects, India’s steel demand is expected grow by about 7 per cent during the current fiscal, experts said on Tuesday.

“The Central government has been focusing on infrastructure projects like Sagarmala, Smart Cities and the new government would stick to its focus. I think steel demand is expected to grow by 7- 8 per cent in the 2019-20,” Institute for Steel Development and Growth (INSDAG) Director General Sushim Banerjee said.

Echoing him, JSW Steel President (Operations) Partha Sengupta also said the sector remains bullish on its outlook and steel consumption during the current fiscal would grow in the range of 6-7 per cent.

Addressing the Metals Conclave here organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tata Steel Managing Director (Processing and Distribution) Abraham Stephanos said: “The opportunity in India for steel has tremendous potential as we become more and more urbanised.”

“Steel industry in India is affected by structural inefficiencies,” he added.

State-run NMDC’s former Chairman Rana Som said steel companies in the country should expand and grow on the basis of equity capital rather than debt fund.

“The government should pull land available with public sector companies to set up steel plants, otherwise setting up of greenfield steel would be excessively difficult after the implementation of the current land acquisition act,” he said,

Som also pointed out that many steel plants had been set up at locations from where imports became more feasible than sourcing raw materials from domestic mines.

“This is not a sustainable system as domestic raw materials are worked out to be cheaper than imported ones,” he said, adding that the government should go back to the iron ore pricing system based on export parity and discard the existing import parity-based pricing system.