"Where is the need to slap import duty further on imports of steel? The imports have not gone up significantly. The fear of the steel makers is unfounded," a Steel Ministry official said.
According to a recent sectoral report by India Ratings and Research, steel imports grew by 24.8 per cent during the January-November period of 2012 to 7 million tonne (mt) over the same period of the previous year.
The official said that given the small volume of imports, which is not more than 6-7 mt, any move to make them costlier might prove wrong to others who depend on steel because of limited or zero availability in the country.
"We have not requested the Finance Ministry to raise import duty on steel in our Budget proposals for the next fiscal (year)," he said.
In the Budget 2012-13, the government enhanced basic customs duty on non-alloy, flat-rolled steel from five per cent earlier to 7.5 per cent.
Domestic steel makers have been clamouring for a rise in import duty to rein in 'dumping' of the alloy - which has gone up by at least 40 per cent in the first six months of current fiscal year.
"In order to protect interests of the domestic industry, Budget needs to revisit last year's hike in excise duty and take steps to discourage dumping of products," Tata Steel's managing director H M Nerurkar said in his Budget wish-list.
Jindal Steel and Power's MD and CEO Ravi Uppal asked the government to take steps for discouraging dumping into India as this would destroy the potential of the domestic steel industry.
"No dumping of steel should be allowed in India. The main challenge is China. They produce 750 mt steel, and can easily dump it in India. If that happens, then the baby (Indian steel industry) will die in its cradle," he said.