Adding to the government’s worries over falling exports, rising imports and a consequent widening of the current account deficit (CAD), the performance of the eight infrastructure industries also brought no cheer with core sector growth decelerating to 2.3 per cent in May on account of contraction in output of crude oil, natural gas, coal and fertilisers.

The slowdown in the eight core sector industries is particularly disconcerting as the official data released here on Monday revealed that the growth in May — with the combined index of coal, crude oil, natural gas, petroleum refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity at 159.2 — marks a slide from a robust 7.2 per cent expansion witnessed in the same month in the previous year.

“The decline in the growth rate in May was mainly on account of negative growth in the production of coal, crude oil, natural gas and fertiliser,” the official statement said.

As per the data, coal production during May posted a negative growth of (-) 3.3 per cent as against a 9.6 per cent increase in the same month of 2012.

The cumulative growth during April-May this fiscal, however, was at (-) 0.1 per cent as compared to 7.8 per cent during April-May 2012-13.

Likewise, crude oil production saw a negative growth of (-) 2.4 per cent during the month as compared to an increase of 0.5 per cent in May, 2012.

The worst performer was natural gas with its production growth rate at (-) 18.7 per cent in May as against (-) 10.7 per cent in the same month a year ago.The growth in petroleum refinery production, however, was in positive territory with an increase of 5 per cent although it was far subdued when compared to a robust 23.4 per cent growth witnessed in May last year. Steel output was also 4.1 per cent higher as against 3.8 per cent a year ago while cement output saw a paltry 3 per cent increase as against 15.4 per cent in May, 2012.

The growth in electricity generation was higher at 6.2 per cent as compared to 5.9 per cent posted in the same month of 2012.