New Delhi: After the success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the Narendra Modi 2.0 government’s flagship “Nal se Jal” scheme may give a fresh impetus to the country’s steel sector.

Experts believe that the new scheme, which aims to provide piped water connections to every household by 2024, will increase the demand for steel, which, in turn, may lead to massive investments in the sector.

More durability and greater life span of the metal makes it an ideal for water pipelines and other infrastructural requirements for the flagship scheme.

Dr Mukesh Kumar, Director of Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI), told The Sunday Guardian that the new scheme to provide safe drinking water to every household will help the sector in a big way. Giving the example of a similar scheme implemented in Telengana, known as “Bhagirathi”, he said, “In Telengana, which has a population of around 3.5 crore, the cost of implementation of the whole scheme was around Rs 50,000 crore. If we consider 70% is the cost for materials needed, just imagine the amount of steel pipes that will be required in big states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. This increase in consumption of steel will definitely attract more investments to the sector.’’

According to news reports, Minister of Steel Dharmendra Pradhan, too, has written a letter to Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, highlighting the role that steel can play in the Jal Jevaan Mission and calling for a convergence between the two ministries for achieving the objectives of the Jal Jevaan Mission. In his letter, Pradhan has also outlined the properties of steel such as corrosion resistance, greater life span, less replacement cost etc., which make it an ideal material for transportation of potable as well as industrial water.

The “Nal se Jal” scheme comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, which has merged the ministries of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation with the Drinking Water and Sanitation portfolio. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has earmarked Rs 28,261.59 crore for the scheme in the budget.

Officials said that the Ministry of Steel is preparing its paperwork to approach the newly formed Ministry of Jal Shakti.

“Once it is clear what type of infrastructure and pipes are required and how it will benefit the steel sector, the Ministry of Steel will focus on ensuing that those types of pipes are available,’’ an official said.

Stating that the requirement of steel in the proposed “Nal se Jal” scheme is around 70%, S. Banerjee, Director General of Institute for Steel Development and Growth, said, “In every stage of the scheme, from water treatment plants to pipeline layout, which involves distribution of pipelines, steel consumption will go up. According to reports we have received for water supply, about 70% of these projects use steel. In some states like UP, there is some use of UPVC (Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride) pipes. But the major problem with such UPVC pipes is that they are not durable compared to steel pipes. They leak easily and there is a real risk of the water getting contaminated. Steel pipes are much more durable in terms of life cycle analysis. Thus, the government should consider steel since in terms of life cycle analysis, steel scores over any other material.’’

A report by JM Financial Securities Limited has suggested that the proposed scheme may attract Rs 6.3 lakh crore worth of investments in the water and sanitation sectors. 

According to the report, the investments would be towards sectors such as pipes, EPC (engineering, procurement and construction), water treatment, pumps and valves, cement, among others.