The iron and steel industry is struggling to meet environmental norms with its energy consumption 50% higher than global best practice. Also, its water usage is over three times the best global techniques.
Due to poor environmental compliance, the sector scored a mere 19% in the Green Rating Project (GRP) of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which rated major iron and steel plants in the country.
The CSE rated 21 companies with over 0.5 million tonne of annual capacity on over 150 parameters – from technology to process efficiency and from pollution to occupational health, safety and compliance.
The CSE has already rated the automobile, paper, chlor-alkali and cement sectors. Iron and steel is the fifth key industrial sector rated by it.
On the basis of its findings, the CSE also confers the Five Leaves Awards on the plants that are most environment-friendly.
Of the 21, three companies scored over 35% and got the Three Leaves. They are Ispat Industries in Raigad district of Maharashtra, Essar Steel in Hazira (Gujarat) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL or Vizag Steel), based in Visakhapatnam. The Three Leaves Award represents ‘average’ performance under GRP.
The CSE says the top-three firms have invested in efficient technologies to cut their energy and material costs – This, incidentally, has also improved their environmental performance. “This rating is a shock. The poor environmental performance of this sector is a measure of the failure of the regulatory institutions in the country,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.