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Thesynergyonline Economic Bureau

THE Associated Chambers Of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has urged the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to exempt import of coal from customs duty for modern iron and steel plants, coming out with latest technologies like Corex, Finex and PCI.

In a communication to the Chairman CBEC, the Chamber has pointed out that coal, imported for traditional iron and steel making processes is already exempted from custom tariff since 2002 through a notification number: 21/2002-Cus.
In a statement, ASSOCHAM Secretary General, Mr D S Rawat pointed out that a good number of iron and steel projects are likely to be commissioned in India with latest steel making technologies such as Corex, Finex and PCI (Pulversied Coal Injection) which will import large quantities of coal.

Subjecting modern iron and steel makers to over 5 percent customs duty regime for import of coal will totally be unfair and put them at disadvantage with their counterparts if this anomaly in existing notification is not corrected, especially when India is gearing up to add huge capacities in iron and steel sectors to meet its growing domestic demand added, Mr. Rawat.

Therefore, the Chamber has urged CBEC to issue a clarification to this effect since import of coal for traditional Iron and Steel plants is already exempted and there is no fresh notification issued to this effect as yet.
Coal which will be used in modern Iron and Steel plants should be exempted from customs tariff because it will minimize the output cost of the product. In addition, the production cost of iron and steel would subside by minimum 20 percent and such plants will occupy lesser space. The iron and steel made out of plants with latest technologies will also be environment friendly and emit little greenhouse gases.

The Chamber holds the view that coal is a natural resource which has a finite supply. Historically, coal is being used by the iron and steel industry in blast furnace, after converting the same into briquettes in coke ovens, through a process of coking/caking.

Though most of the coal have coking/caking properties in varying degrees and thus fall under the category of coking coal, for the purpose of blast furnace, the coal with high coking properties are preferred.
The Chamber has also pointed out that there has been conscious effort, by investing in research and development, to maximize the effective usage of coal having soft/weak properties. This will not only reduce costs but also will enable use of such coal which is available in large quantities.

Due to these research and development activities, it has been possible to use different varieties of coal which exhibit soft/weak coking properties during the manufacture of iron & steel. Thus, recent technologies like Corex, Finex, PCI has greatly enhanced the usage of such coal and also helped in reducing costs.

The said progress in technology has considerably increased the optimal use of the natural resources and thereby prevented the fast depletion of non-renewable natural resources. These latest technologies have also helped in reducing carbon emission and therefore offer an opportunity for the iron and steel industry to adopt these technologies to reduce costs and offer an environmental friendly option for manufacturing iron amd steel. (editor@thesynergyonline.com)

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