NEW DELHI: Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday threw a googly at the steel industry, saying his ministry will allow use of “synthetic fibre” and “composite fibre” bars in place of steel products for building roads and bridges to reduce cost in the face of “artificial” hike in price of the key construction raw material.
Addressing the foundation day of an industry house in Mumbai, Gadkari said the steel industry has increased the prices which is “not justified” considering that there has been no escalation in labour, raw material and power costs. “Every steel producer has got its own iron ore mines. So, jacking up prices is a type of black marketing and the cement industry is also habitual of this. I am going to settle my issue with them. Now we are planning to allow synthetic fibre in place of steel,” he said.
Gadkari said he will see that the steel manufacturers reduce the prices. “Nearly 40% of the steel and cement are used in highway construction. If they don’t reduce prices, we will formulate alternative policies,” he warned.
Top civil engineers in the government and private sectors said the use of synthetic fibre, composite fibre bars and fibre-reinforced concrete is catching up. “Most of the structures we are building should have at least 100 years of life. So far, there is hardly any trial of the composite fibre or synthetic fibre for 20-30 years,” said an engineer on the condition of anonimity.