Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday said the steel ministry is looking at an aggregate investment of $70 billion in the eastern region of the country through accelerated development of the sector.
Launching the 'Purvodaya' programme here, Pradhan said the underdeveloped districts in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, northern Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha have to be taken forward for development of the steel sector.
The eastern region with rich mineral resources has a great potential for development of the steel industry, he said, adding that Bihar needs to be included in the list.
According to the National Steel Policy announced in 2017, the government is aiming at a total production capacity of 300 million tonne by 2030 and out of which, around 200 million tonne is envisaged from the five eastern states, he said.
Addressing an event organised by CII, Pradhan, minister of petroleum, natural gas and steel, said the region has rich deposits of coal, iron ore and bauxite.
"As much as 90 million tonne of steel is produced in the east, out of the total production volume of 140 million tonne in the country," he said.
The steel ministry's additional secretary Rasika Chaube said the eastern region has a "natural advantage and potential" to contribute to India's target of achieving an economy of $five trillion within 2024-25, adding that the sector has the capability to act as a catalyst.
She said the 'Purvodaya' programme would also address the logistics and infrastructure bottlenecks in the eastern region.
It also seeks setting up of greenfield plants and expansion of brownfield ones and constructing of clusters near the demand centres, Chaube added.
"Task forces have also been set up for setting up pilot projects under the aegis of the steel ministry and inter-ministerial consultations will be held for the proposed clusters," she said.
Coal India chairman and managing director Anil Jha said the miner has been focusing on minimising the imports of the fuel.
"For this, we are looking to produce 900 million tonnes of coal by 2023-24 from the current level of 607 million tonnes," Jha said.
SAIL chairman A K Chaudhary said the company has a strong presence in the east with five steel plants having production volume of 20 million tonnes while Indian Oil Corporation chairman Sanjiv Singh said the expansion of the gas and oil pipelines will boost demand for steel consumption.
"Oil and gas has a strong linkage with the steel sector," he said.