India's Cement Industry Weathers Downturn

15 Dec 2010 • by Natalie Aster

The glue that holds the infrastructure sector is cement and the growth of Cement Industry is directly linked to the growth of infrastructure sector. India today is the second fastest growing economy in the world with the cement and construction sector being the prime movers. The Indian cement industry with a total installed capacity of 219 million tonnes is the second largest producer in the world and has been growing at a rate of 9 to 10 per cent per annum. With a large percentage of Indian population being below the age of 25, the construction activity is expected to make a significant contribution in the context of growing housing needs, development of roads and other infrastructure, urbanization, etc.

It is the construction sector which shares the blame of global economic slowdown leading to slackening of demand for housing; but withstanding that hard time, our cement sector is still growing at a 10 per cent when compared to the global average of 5 per cent. Indian Industry is fortunate in having an active support and services of the National Council for Cement & Building Materials with an excellent R&D Infrastructure and invaluable intellectual capital. In a recent International Seminar on Cement & Building Materials in New Delhi, Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, said: “In spite of global slowdown and reduction in demand, cement industry needs to be complimented for weathering the downturn and recording a commendable growth of around 8 per cent in 2007-08 as well as in 2008-09. In the current year 2009-10 so far, the pace of growth of cement industry has accelerated significantly above double digit.”

The Indian Cement Industry has achieved an installed capacity of 242 million tonnes and is targetted to reach 300 million tonnes by 2011-12 and 600 million by 2020. India has 97 per cent of the installed capacity through dry process; the Indian Cement Industry has been adopting latest technologies for energy conservation and pollution control as well as on-line process of quality control based on expert systems and laboratory automation. Despite having high demand in India, our per capita cement consumption is very low, where the world average is 396 kg, in India the per capita consumption is only 156 kg. India being the country of young population has a huge potential and its ushering social and economic base will improve the domestic consumption.

Indian cement industry is efficient and eco-friendly, when it comes to energy conservation, the best level is achieved by the Industry as far as data goes of 687 kilo calories per kg of clinker and 66 KWh per tonne cement are at par with the best achieved levels in the world. The Cement industry effort towards control of emissions, preservations of ecology and its Corporate Social Responsibility for Environmental Protection are laudable. The sustainable and long- standing efforts towards reduction of carbon footprint is commendable – CO2 emission of 0.82 tonnes per tonne of cement produced in 2006, a sustainable drop from the level of 1.12 in 1996 and 0.94 in 2000.

On the technology front, the Indian Cement Industry has largely adopted state-of-art manufacturing technologies, system for cogeneration of power and technologies for low NOx and SO2 emission have yet to achieve many targets. The initiative taken by cement industry for waste utilization are evident from the fact that production of blended cement in the country in the year 2008-09 was as high as 74 per cent as against only 36 per cent in 2000-01. The Indian Cement Industry annually recycles more that 30 million tones of fly ash, apart from consuming the entire quality of granulated blast furnace slag- another waste generated by steel plants in our country.

The rising cost of energy transportation and persistent raw material pressures have been playing a heavy strain on the cement and construction industry. As a result, Indian Companies have to not only explore alternate sources of energy and materials but also strive to enhance operational efficiency. But India’s potential for growth remains intact. The need of the hour is to spend invest adequately in developing human resources capable of addressing the professional needs of construction industry like application of advanced technologies and construction practices, project management construction, litigation, insurance and finance, etc.

Indian Cement Industry is in search of competitive advantage, therefore, it is continuously improving on the innovation and optimization front. While embracing its commitment to grow and compete globally, it is however not neglecting the ecological and environmental needs. Cement sector is adopting sustainable development practices and conservation measures while harnessing energy for its use. The industry if fully committed and partner global efforts to reduce Green House Gases impact and mitigating the evil of climate change.

Source: Press Information Bureau


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