BUSINESS

Infrastructure sector posts lower growth in April

NEW DELHI MAY 22. Mirroring a slowdown in economic activity, India's key infrastructure sector posted a lower growth rate of 3.9 per cent in April, the first month of fiscal 2003-04, as compared to a healthy growth of 5.4 per cent in the same month a year ago.

While finished steel outperformed with an impressive 11.9 per cent growth rate, crude oil production and cement logged negative growth rates, an official statement said here.

Petroleum products, coal and electricity generation posted lower growth rates of 6.6 per cent, 3.1 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. The three had recorded 8.6 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent growth rates in April 2002.

Analysts attributed the slowdown in infrastructure industry growth to the ten-day strike by truckers in April, which affected industrial production as goods movement was badly hit.

The year 2002-03 was a roller-coaster ride for the six infrastructure industries — beginning with 5.4 per cent growth in April and peaking to 9.3 per cent in July before falling to 1.7 per cent in September.

The index recovered again to touch 6.2 per cent in October but not before it fell again to 3.1 per cent in March.

The leading infrastructure sector index grew by 5.2 per cent in 2002-03 as opposed to 3.5 per cent the previous year.

Crude oil production at 2.572 million tonnes in April this fiscal was lower than 2.622 million tonnes production a year ago. About 8.535 million tonnes of petroleum refinery products was produced against 8.005 million tonnes in April 2002.

Coal production improved to 26.2 million tonnes over 25.4 million tonnes last year, while finished steel production touched an all time high of 2.767 million tonnes in April as compared to 2.473 million tonnes in the previous fiscal.

With truckers' strike affecting despatches, cement production fell to 9.553 million tonnes from 9.837 million tonnes last year. Electricity generation improved to 44291 million units as opposed to 43437 million units generated in April 2002.

PTI

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