Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan today said that ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is about transforming India from being just a passive market to an active manufacturing hub at the heart of global value chains. Addressing the 119th annual general meeting of Merchant’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, he said that an Aatmanirbhar Bharat is a strong Bharat with robust manufacturing sector, self-reliant yet globally integrated economy. A Self-reliant India will be a Force Multiplier for the global economy, he added. When India speaks of becoming self-reliant, it doesn’t advocate a self-centred system. In India’s self-reliance, there is a concern for the whole world’s happiness, cooperation and peace, the minister said.
The Minister said that India cannot become Aatmanirbhar without the eastern India becoming self-reliant. He said that Purvodaya- eastern India has to drive the national growth. “Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized the need for focused development of the Eastern India to harness the untapped potential of this region to fuel next wave of national growth. This is the essence of Mission Purvodaya. Both petroleum as well as steel sector have to play an important role in Mission Purvodaya”, he said.
Pradhan said that under Mission Purvodaya, we are building an Integrated Steel Hub in eastern India which would add to the competitiveness of the steel sector and facilitate regional development with job creation. “The steel clusters will drive employment opportunities across the value chain, creating both direct and indirect jobs and spurring entrepreneurship, including in under-developed areas. It will spur development of other manufacturing industries and will be accompanied with social infrastructure in the form of cities, schools, hospitals, skilling centers etc.”, he added.
Pradhan said that Indian gas grid is being expanded to new markets in eastern and north- eastern part of the country with Government’s supports of capital grants under the Indradhanush North Eastern Gas Grid projects. Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG) project is directed to provide piped cooking gas to the millions of households in eastern states.
The Minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused demand destruction and supply chain shocks to the global economy, leading to downturn everywhere. He said that even though the pandemic continues to inhibit the conduct of normal activity, there are indications of improvements and a gradual increase in activity across regions and segments of the domestic economy. Progressive improvements are expected as the easing of lockdown restrictions become widespread that would put the country back on the growth trajectory, he mentioned. Pradhan said that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package and Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana have provided relief to all sections of the society and provided necessary support to all sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. These will enable India to bounce back quickly and start scripting the next chapter of Indian growth story.
Pradhan said that India’s stable democracy and strong political leadership and large domestic market and young demographics are seen as key factors supportive of the sustained growth potential of the country in the medium to long run.
Speaking about oil and gas sector, Pradhan said that we are witnessing a fast-changing energy landscape. “Under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, Government of India has unleashed path breaking reforms for a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system to power robust economic growth. India is now the third-largest energy consuming country in the world. Prime Minister has envisioned and stated a clear road map for India’s energy future, which rests on five key enablers of energy availability and accessibility for all, energy affordability to the poorest of the poor, efficiency in energy use, energy sustainability for combating climate change and energy security for mitigating global uncertainties.” He also mentioned about the Prime Minister’s speech at the fourth India Energy Forum by CERAweek earlier this month, in which he highlighted seven key pillars of India’s energy strategy going forward and stressed upon India’s rise as a major consumer of energy globally. These seven key drivers include accelerating efforts to move towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, greater reliance on domestic fuels to drive biofuels, achieving the renewable energy target of 450 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, increasing the contribution of electricity to decarbonise mobility, moving into emerging fuels like Hydrogen and digital innovation across all energy systems.
Pradhan said that Ujjwala Yojana has led to socio-economic changes and enhanced space for women’s empowerment in India, and has doubled the number of LPG connections in the country. LPG coverage has increased from 55 per cent to 98 per cent. On SATAT (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation), he said that it is aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle- users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs. The Minister said that this initiative holds great promise for efficient municipal solid waste management and in tackling the problem of polluted urban air due to farm stubble-burning and carbon emissions. Use of CBG will also help bring down dependency on crude oil imports and in realising the Prime Minister’s vision of enhancing farmers’ income, rural employment and entrepreneurship. With significant focus on agriculture, this holds immense potential for eastern India. He said that in order to realise the vision to shift towards a gas-based economy, the government has envisaged spending of a massive $100 billion in creating oil and gas infrastructure. India is developing gas infrastructure including pipelines, LNG terminals and CGD network. Coverage of City Gas projects is being expanded to over more than 400 districts with a potential to cover 70% of country’s population, he added.
On the steel industry, Pradhan said that it serves as a backbone to the country and Steel continues to play an important role in our country as we seek to build a modern economy. Indian steel sector is seeking to fulfil all the domestic requirements and also emerge as a major player at the global stage. He said that despite being the world’s second largest producer of steel, India’s annual per capita steel consumption is 74.1 kg and is one-third the global average (224.5kg). He said that there is an excellent opportunity for India to increase its steel consumption and avail advantages of greater steel use such as reduced life cycle cost increased durability and greater environment sustainability.
Pradhan said that Ministry of Steel has launched a collaborative branding campaign ‘Ispati Irada’ with the objective of promoting appropriate steel usage in the country. This aims to leverage usage of steel as an easy-to-use, environment-friendly, cost-effective, affordable and strength-giving material. He said “we are giving boost to domestic sourcing of iron and steel products by the central Government organisations by mandating preference. Through this DMI&SP Policy, steel imports worth more than Rs. 20,000 cr. have so far been avoided. We are working to ensure raw material security for the sector. We are diversifying our sources of coking coal imports. We have come up with steel scrap policy which provides a framework to facilitate and promote establishment of metal scrapping centres in India for scientific processing & recycling of ferrous scrap generated from various sources and a variety of products. The Policy framework provides standard guidelines for collection, dismantling and shredding activities in an organized, safe and environmentally sound manner.
Pradhan invited the members of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in oil and gas and steel sectors, be “vocal for local” and contribute to realising the vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.