A tough ask but doable

A tough ask but doable

Official data from government agencies have confirmed our worst fears. India's industrial output fell sharply in September at 1.9 percent, growing the slowest in over two years. This has been attributed to rising interest rates and a major slump in investments due to uncertainty in the global economy. Growth in factory output, measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), showed only a 3.8 percent increase in July, and nudged up further to 4.1 percent in August.
Cement grew by just 0.9 per cent in September year-on-year. While experts blame a multitude of reasons for the economic slowdown, the moot point is - is the cement sector up to the new challenges? True, certain companies have shown robust sales in November - such as UltraTech, ACC and Ambuja Cements boosting their stock values - but the truth is this may be a temporary trend and not hold good for the entire season.
There are some lessons from the past which can hold us in good stead. According to
Ashwani Pahuja, Director General, NCB
, who is interviewed in this edition, the industry has fared well and can be compared to its best international counterparts. Be it in energy consumption (667 kilo calories per kg of clinker and 67 kWh per tonne cement are at par with the best achieved levels in the world) or control of emissions, preservation of ecology and voluntary initiatives such as corporate responsibility for environmental protection are laudable. He also informs that the targeted capacities in the coming years would require over 66000 additional technical personnel, including 23000 engineers and supervisors by the end of the XII plan period.
The industry should take this reiteration of its accomplishments and use it to firmly anchor itself to a steady growth plan despite economic upheavals. This can come through efficiency and innovation. Such as ACC and HUL's 'co-processing' arrangement which sees HUL's waste generating around 0.3 per cent of the energy required for the ACC plant.
This issue's cover story is on the new challenges that confront the sector. In the spotlight we have J K Lakshmi cements.
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