Steel production and consumption in India is expected to treble by 2020 as the country tries to close the output gap with China, the managing director of Tata Steel Ltd told a leading economic daily.
B Muthuraman said in an interview published on Tuesday, "I expect India to be producing and consuming 150 million tonnes of steel a year by 2020, compared to what I believe will be about 47 million tonnes this year."
He was speaking on the sidelines of an annual meeting of the International Iron and Steel Institute in Buenos Aires.
Greater investment in manufacturing, roads, railways and ports in India was helping to fuel the increased appetite for steel, Muthuraman said.
"I know India has had problems in developing its infrastructure and this has held up economic growth but in the past two years I have been encouraged by signs that things are improving," he told the economic daily.
Muthuraman predicted that India will begin to close the production gap between itself and China, which is expected to produce about 400 million tonnes of steel this year alone.
For its part, Tata Steel, India's largest private steel maker, aims to increase annual output in India to more than 20 million tonnes by 2013 from 5 million last year, the FT said.
The Tata executive also said he expected the Indian government to privatise the Steel Authority of India - the country's largest publicly-owned steel firm.
"It's not a question of whether I want to see it (privatisation) happen - I am sure it will happen, but I don't think it will happen quickly," he said.