Ludhiana, Feb 4 : Representatives of cycle manufacturing and engineering industries on Monday staged protest against the Central Government's failure to control rising steel prices.
They burnt the effigies of Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Steel and Chemicals Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
While demanding immediate check on rising prices, protesters demanded setting up of a regulatory commission to control prices.
"In the past few months, the price of steel has increased by Rs 4000 to Rs 8000. Our small industries earn a profit of two to three per cent and cannot bear the brunt of increase of 25-30 per cent in prices," said Charanjeet Singh Vishwakarma, President, United Cycle Parts and Manufacturers Association.
Steel majors, including Tata Steel, Essar Steels, JSW Steel, Bhushan Steel, Uttam Galva and the Steel Authority of India recently raised steel prices to offset the higher costs of raw materials such as coal, coke and iron ore. The cost of iron ore and coking coal, the key ingredients for making steel, have gone up by nearly 22 percent.
On Saturday, Paswan said the Ministry of Steel would review next week the decision of steel-makers to raise prices.
Paswan said he has proposed to the Finance Ministry that import duties on scrap iron ore should be cut to zero from the present five per cent, to offset rising input costs.
The Ministry also wants imposition of an ad-valorem duty or royalties on iron ore exports charged according to their values to curtail exports.
Globally, steel prices are likely to increase in most markets this year, with tight raw material markets leading to margin compression for producers, who do not control their sources. The prices of raw material increased by 300 per cent in the last three years.
Robust demand for steel from infrastructure and manufacturing sectors in the fast growing economies such as China and India, coupled with rising costs of iron ore and coking coal, have put pressure on global steel prices.
India, which is scaling up its infrastructure at a cost of 500 billion dollars in five years, plans to double steel capacity to 100 million tonnes by 2012 to meet domestic demand.