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The iron and steel sector is regarded as the core of Indian economy. Its players are big and powerful. It is extremely resource-intensive and polluting. On top of this, it is expanding at a phenomenal rate. This makes the sector a fit case for environmental scrutiny. Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment studied the sector for two years to prepare its environmental profile and rate the performance of its top companies. The exercise undertaken by its Green Rating Project sprang a surprise: the steel sector is struggling to meet even the minimum statutory pollution norms. State pollution control boards do not have the capacity to monitor and regulate these behemoths. What’s worse, the sector is non-transparent and shy of public scrutiny—more than any other sector rated by the project in the past.
The first independent assessment of the steel sector also found it is wasteful in resource use. This is a cause for concern because steel production in the country is likely to increase five times in the next two decades. At this rate, the industry’s energy, water, land and iron ore demand will be immense and unsustainable.
The GREEN RATING TEAM presents a report card, assesses the challenges before the steel industry and suggests a course correction.
Believe it or not, this is the average score of the iron and steel sector in environmental performance. The highest score is a mediocre 40 per cent and the lowest a dismal 2 per cent.
Not one but eight companies record rock bottom performance of less than 15 per cent. No one qualifies for the top Five Leaves Award or the next Four Leaves. Of the 21 steel plants rated, three fall under the three-leaves category, scoring just above 35 per cent. Five companies get Two Leaves (25-35 per cent), and another five One Leaf (15-25 per cent)