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Stained steel

9 Comments
Jun 15, 2012 | From the print edition

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.

Iron ore dust from a steel plant settles on ferns struggling to survive 19/100

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)

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The Story is really Great observation.
Is the Executives of the SAIL do know their green Rating?
When SAIL being the cash rich company and having highest social commitment how this can manage with out single green count?

Why central and state govt donot create the special zones for steel plants and power plants?

Only SEZ for IT and apparel will give growth to country?

Steel, Power and Cement are the basic resources for Infrastructure development in India. The country growth is only depends on Infrastructure growth but not IT related growth.

Please try to publish articles for the growth related stories.

Best oppertunity for India if we export every nut and shell we make. Because the dollar and rupee value today.

Every small and medium scale industry to take this oppertunity for export and earn.

PRKRAJU

TECHSOURCE

6 June 2012
Posted by
PRK RAJU

Sir,
The effort of CSE is commendable .
This raises the bar several notches up as a criteria to evaluate them is now in place .
So those who make the green wash, even when they are not green even at a basic level , will be compelled to make their ratings better in many ways .Let us hope that the policy makers will realize that green business is definitely good business for the bottom line too .

I did work for Major Steel Plants,both in public and private sectors since 1979 and visits many plants often these days too in my efforts to make them more green , healthier and socially responsible .After two decades of work it is a very long way to go as far as mere compliance is concerned .

The Steel industry can do better green management if they wish so .
The internal drive is to spend the least on Green and do something when it is inevitable .

So let CSE keep tracking them and it might work well some day.

Jacob Cherian
10June 2012

10 June 2012
Posted by
Jacob Cherian

Thank you Mr. PRK Raju and Mr. Jacob Cherian for your comments. Indeed, the country lacks independent and authoritative research on many fronts in environmental field and steel sector is just one among them. The apathy towards environment has actually been escalating, even while the companies unilaterally proclaim to be green. We hope this study would bring some change. We would continue to track the performance of these steel plants and keep the readers posted.

9 August 2012


Posted by
Umashankar S

The report talks at length about the problems associated with the steel industry. Close watchers of the steel industry and other related heavy engg industries are aware that such problems exist. The study is a good information collecting exercise. But it should not suffer the ill fate of being restricted to that only! My question is that is the GRP taking any follow up action against the strong findings??? Is it coming up with innovative solutions for the plants? If it is leaving it to the individual companies to sort out the shortcomings, it is a failed dead end then because such companies will not invest time and money to achieve the best practices (who can blame them because the Govt of India itself refuses to adopt mandatory climate change targets?)! So the GRP itself should design and offer solutions out of these problems-otherwise this exercise, though undoubtedly rigorous, would be just another data collection report which will collect dust once some time has passed. And the local people of India will continue to suffer - despite the UN sponsored studies, despite all the talk of UN missions aimed at enhancing lives of people!

17 September 2012
Posted by
Green Revolter

Thanks for your comment. Indeed, the green rating team is following up with plants and pushing for action. Few have come forward though. For example, Vizag Steel has initiated action on metallurgical wastewater treatment. Further, GRP book 'Into the Furnace' discusses the technological solutions of the sector in detail. Information is also provided on the localised solutions across Indian plants.

5 November 2012


Posted by
Umashankar S

Is there any environment act or law in the govt which limits the companies producing more than its rated capacities.
Even if they are operating in their approved pollution limits.
In short any industry having approved capacity of 1 Mn units can produce 1.1 or more , than its rated capacity.

6 December 2012
Posted by
Anonymous

Its a wonderful story. We would like you to cover Industry from other industrial segment also, which also pollute a lot and making scarcity of the natural resources like water and clean air.

6 December 2012
Posted by
Anonymous

It was new information to me that CSE’s Green Rating Project is India’s only comprehensive environmental audit system, which was started in the mid-1990s. The pie graph was helpful in understanding about the rating criteria and weightage.

11 June 2014
Posted by
Maria Manu

Your findings should be an eye opener for all those who are involved with the steel industry in India.
I have been with this industry for the past three and a half decades. I understand the implications of the hard facts the CSE is trying to highlight.
It is also true when you say that the industry authorities are not very serious about the management of the resources and addressing the environmental issues.

But what is the root cause for such an apparent apathy?In reality, there is no reason why the PSU steel companies do not take up this issue honestly and try to resolve it!

The problem lies essentially in the way the steel plants manage their talent pool. At some levels in the management hierarchy, you meet with a sudden competency vacuum always.

In some units it could be in the junior level, in some other it is in the middle level or otherwise in the senior or top level.

Whatever way, it seriously affects smooth and reliable flow of information and ideas. This also corrupts some best thought of ideas to degrade to the worst imaginable!

The net result is the poor show that you have highlighted.

Tackling this problem in the steel plants is not a big issue, technically. It could be done very effectively, provided there exists a streamlined organizational framework with competent people.

The great majority of steel executives do not even know the systems that provide them their drinking water or the manner in which their domestic sewage is disposed. Forget about the more complex issues!

Unfortunately, there is little hope for improvement due the cumulative effects of organizational mismanagement that have been slowly and surely making the internal damage for quite some time now.

A military organization which wittingly or unwittingly deploys its best trained pilots as truck drivers cannot win! Not much intelligence is required to understand this!

21 November 2014
Posted by
Rajan C Mathew

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