India’s core sector industries grew by only 0.6% in FY 2019-20

India’s eight infrastructure sectors contracted by a record 6.5% in March after touching an 11-month high in February, hit by a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of covid-19. For the 12 month period between April 2019 and March 2020, the cumulative growth was merely 0.6 per cent against the previous year.

Data released by the industry department on Thursday showed sectors including crude oil (-5.5%), natural gas (-15.2%), refinery products (-0.5%), fertilizers (-11.9%), steel (-13%), cement (-24.7%) and electricity (-7.2%) saw a contraction in output in the month, except coal which grew 4%.

With the lockdown in place throughout April, which is expected to have severely curtailed production in many core sectors, the contraction in core sector output is likely to worsen to alarming levels in that month.

The eight core industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The combined Index of eight core industries stood at 137.0 in March, 2020, which declined by 6.5per cent as compared to the index of March,2019.

Coal production increased by 4.0 per cent in March, 2020 over March,2019. Its cumulative index declined by 0.5per cent during April to March, 2019-20 over corresponding period of the previous year.

Crude Oil production declined by 5.5 per cent in March, 2020 over March,2019. Its cumulative index declined by 5.9 per cent during April to March, 2019-20 over the corresponding period of previous year.

The Natural Gas production declined by15.2 per cent in March, 2020 over March,2019. Cumulatively for the year, the decline was 5.7 per cent.  Petroleum Refinery production declinedby 0.5 per cent in March, 2020.

Fertilizers production declined by 11.9 per cent in March, 2020 over the previous March. The cumulative index increased by 2.7 per cent during the 12 months.

Steel production declined by 13.0 per cent in March, 2020 over March,2019. Its cumulative index increased by 4.2per cent during April to March, 2019-20 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Cement production declined by24.7 per cent in March, 2020 over March,2019. Its cumulative index declined by 0.8 per cent during April to March, 2019-20 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Electricity generation declined by 7.2 per cent in March, 2020. The cumulative index in Fiscal 2020, however, increased by 1.0 per cent over previous fiscal.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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