Making a pitch for Make in India in defence sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said India has surpassed US in steel production, but it is still behind China and more steel production was needed.
“When I talk of Make in India, I am not prepared to lag behind anyone. We have to march forward and surpass China in steel production,” said Modi at a massive rally here, shortly after he dedicated the expanded and modernised projects of SAIL’s Rourkela Steel Plant. After today’s expansion, RSP’s per annum steel production has gone upto 4.5 million from 2 million at a cost of Rs 12000 crore.
Linking steel production to defence preparedness of the country, Modi said today India is dreaming of becoming indigenous in its naval defence. “Our efforts are now on how to make our warships in India. But the warships are possible because a labourer in Rourkela is sweating to make it under intense heat,” he said.
Describing Rourkela as a mini-India, Modi said it has hugely contributed to adding to India’s steel muscle after independence. “Our jawans can think of protecting the nation when the tanks are made of strong plates. The labourers here don’t just make the steel armour of the tanks, they make our soliders safe,” he said.
Modi said India should not look for mere exporting of the iron ore to abroad for creating wealth. “Selling iron ore to other countries may give us temporary economic benefits, but it would not build India’s future. Value addition of the iron ore and other ores should happen.”
Pressing for setting up more ore-based plants, he said more steel units would create more jobs for people under-35 age group who constitute 65 per cent of the population. “The units should get more bank loans. If the youths get employment they would give a new strength to country’s fiscal health. There would be more jobs in Orissa and elsewhere,” he said.
“There was a time when no one was prepared to look at India. The last 10 years have passed through such hardships, the world has turned away its face from us. But in last 10 months, the clouds of uncertainity have been swept away. The world is looking at us for more investments in road, rails and housing for poor. We should use this opportunity to invite other countries and develop India. We can assure them that they would get better returns here,” he said.
Reiterating his look-east policy of developing the eastern Indian States, he said it was not enough that only Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana and Gujarat developed. “Let them develop. But the country would develop when Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam and West Bengal develop,” he said.
Modi used the opportunity to thank Naveen for his party’s support in passing of the MMDR Bill and Coal Bill in Rajya Sabha. However, BJP supporters present in the meeting started booing Naveen with “Modi Modi” chants when he spoke just before the Prime Minister. Modi’s programme overshadowed Naveen’s Rs 5-a-meal Ahaar scheme which the latter launched at a hospital here.
Union steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said SAIL has speeded up its expansion and modernisation activities and by September 2015, the combined capacities of all its units would go up to 23 million tonne from 13 million tonne now. By 2025, SAIL has set a target of producing 50 million tonne of steel per annum.