New Delhi, March 17:

Indian steel exports have risen by 78 per cent in the eleven months (April-February) of the current fiscal and the country is on course to becoming the second largest steel producer in the world, Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said on Friday.

Noting that “the past 3 years have been quite challenging for the steel industry”, the Minister said the “government of India intervened strategically to provide policy and regulatory support from time to time, which has given desired results like improvement in capacity utilisation to over 78 per cent, reduction in imports by 39 per cent and significant increase in exports by 78 per cent in the 11 months of current financial year.”

He was addressing a curtain-raiser media conference on India Steel 2017 international conference to be held in Mumbai on the coming April 19-21.

“At present, the steel industry in India is on a path of growth and will soon become the second largest steel producer in the world,” Singh said.

“The Steel Ministry is ready with a National Steel Policy 2017, which is in the final stages,” he said, adding that inter-ministerial consultation is going on for maximising use of domestic steel in key projects.

To a query on whether the Ministry has had talks with the Reserve Bank over restructuring of loans for the steel sector, he said: “We already had a talk on this. A lot of restructuring has already happened.” (IANS)