Steel min seeks similar freight for iron ore, coal

The steel ministry has asked the railway ministry to charge similar haulage rates for iron ore and coal.

The steel ministry said the iron ore rate was almost 14 per cent more than that for coal. According to the railways' website, a company needs to pay Rs 213 to transport a tonne of coal 125 km (kilometre) and Rs 241 for a tonne of iron ore.

"The steel ministry has been taking this matter up at the Railway Board level since August. However, it has not received a response yet," said a senior government official.

"Iron ore is classified under freight class 165. We want it under freight class 145, the same as coal," said a steel ministry official.

The railway ministry earlier this week abolished a policy where the haulage rate for iron ore meant for export was higher than the one meant for local use.

With the steel industry going through a severe downturn, Union junior steel minister Vishnu Deo Sai said a demand for a comprehensive package had been referred to the department of financial services.

Two months ago, the central government had extended the safeguard duty on some steel imports till March 2018 to protect the industry from cheap Chinese supplies. However, the duty would be reduced to 10 per cent in stages over the next two years.

In January, the government had imposed a minimum import price for six months on 173 products to protect domestic firms from cheap imports.

If required, the government may extend it beyond six months.

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