• India is the second-largest producer of steel in the world after China, with production of 80.33 million tonne during January-March 2019.
  • India’s steel production decreased about 0.3% to 27.33 million tonne during January – March 2019 as against 27.40 million tonne in the corresponding period of last year.
  • In 2018, India’s annual production of crude steel had stood at 106.5 MT, up 4.9% from 101.5 MT it had produced in 2017.
  • India has set an ambitious target of materialising its steel production capacity to 300 million tonnes.
  • In May 2017, the Union Cabinet also the approved two policies to give a boost to the domestic steel sector. This includes the National Steel Policy 2017 that has envisaged Rs 10 lakh crore investment to take capacity to 300 million tonne by 2030-31.
  • UltraTech Cement will have to be mindful of country specific regulations and seek consent of joint venture partners as it looks to sell the associated global assets it inherited with the recent acquisition of Binani Cement in an insolvency-driven process.
  • The global assets that UltraTech plans to sell include the Binani 3B – the Fibreglass Company, with plants in Europe and Goa; a three-million tonne per annum joint venture cement plant in China; and a 2.5 million tonne per annum grinding unit in the UAE. Binani Cement owned a 90 per cent stake the China JV and 49 per cent in the UAE venture.
  • India’s manufacturing activity expanded at its slowest pace in eight months in April as growth in new orders and output dipped as national elections got under way.
  • Manufacturing firms are mainly concerned about what policies the new government will adopt when it takes office by end-May.
  • With price pressures in the manufacturing economy and growth losing momentum, it’s increasingly likely that the RBI may cut its official rate for a third successive time in June.
  • It is expected that in the year 2019-20, the Coal India supply to thermal power plants would rise about 9% at 530 million tonnes as against 488 million tonnes in 2018-19. This enhanced target would help soften power prices and substitute the solid fuel’s imports.
  • In 2018-19, power generators from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, firms that normally depend on domestic fuel, imported 1.4 times more coal.
  • State-owned NTPC increased its imports three times to 9.6 lakh tonnes, while independent power producers from the private sector imported close to 12.8 million tonnes during 2018-19.
  •  Coal India Ltd aims to increase the allocation of coal to power plants by nearly 9% to around 530 million tonne during 2019-2020.
  • Coal supply by CIL to power sector was 488 million tonne during 2018-19, almost 7.5% higher than 454 million tonne in 2017-18.
  • During 2018-19, CIL’s share of despatch to power sector increased to 80% from 78% during the previous two years.
  • CIL coal supply to power sector throughout the year 2018-19, improved the stocks at the power plants from the low of 9.424 million tonne (consumption level for 6 days) to 30.947 million tonne (consumption level for 18 days) at the end of March 2019.
  • CIL also succeeded in bringing down the number of power stations in critical stock list from 34 as on May 5, 2018 to ‘nil’ as on March 31, 2019.
  • To cater with critical coal stocks situation at power plants, Shakti’ policy by the Central government in 2017-18 has been introduced.
  • CIL signed Fuel Supply Agreements (FSA) with power plants who were earlier issued LoA (Letter of Assurance), but whose commissioning was delayed beyond the stipulated timelines.
  • With the regular and bridge linkages grant by CIL, dependency of large numbers of power plants had shifted from the special window of e-auction to institutional mechanism of supplies from CIL through FSAs and MoUs.
  • In the wake of thrust to the power sector, the share of coal allocated under e-auction segment has come down to 12.6% of production from 16.9% in 2017-18 and 20.5% in 2016-17.
  • On May 2, 2019 (Thursday), the Indian rupee gained 19 paise to close at 69.37 against the US dollar on account of the following factors:
    • easing crude oil prices;
    • weakening of the dollar against other major currencies overseas (dollar, euro, pound & yen);
    • selling of the dollar by exporters; and
    • sustained foreign fund inflows .
  • It was the third consecutive session of rupee’s gain.