Bhubaneswar, Mar 16 (UNI) Apprehending that India will face a problem of scarcity of iron ore after 40 years, Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today favoured a total ban on the export of iron ore from the country.
Talking to newspersons here, Mr Paswan said export of iron ore must be stopped in the interest of the upcoming steel industries in the country.
He said by 2011-2012 India will be producing nearly 124 million tonnes of steel as against the demand of 109 million tonnes but the situation would be changed by 2020 when the country would be producing 224 million tonnes against the demand of 300 million tonnes.
The Union Minister said while the demand for steel was rising at the rate of 13 per cent, the production of steel showed a growth rate of only 5.5 per cent leading to a rise in the prices of steel.
Mr Paswan cautioned that the deposits of high grade iron ore in the country would be exhausted in the next two decades forcing India to import them from other countries if the ban on export of iron ore was not imposed.
The Union Minister said only those industrial houses which would set up steel plants should be allowed to have the captive iron ore mines and others without any plants should not be given the right to explore and export the iron ore.
To a question, he said nearly Rs 950 crore would be spent on the expansion of the Rourkela Steel Plant to enhance its production capacity.
Mr Paswan announced that the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) would provide Rs 50 lakh for the light and sound programme in the Netaji Memorial Museum at Cuttack.
He said the Centre had already provided Rs 1.5 crore for the museum, adding that if necessary he would discuss with the Prime Minister to provide more funds to the museum.
To a question, Mr Paswan said his Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) would certainly field candidates in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Orissa but refused to give any details on the number of seats it would like to contest in Orissa.
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