Infrastructure growth slows to 6% in Sep

Infrastructure growth slows to 6% in Sep

Tracking a sharp drop in industrial growth, six core infrastructure industries expanded by a disappointing 6% in September against 10.6% a year ago. The growth for the April-September period of 2007-08 also dropped to 6.6% from 8.7% in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Among the six key infrastructure industries, which contribute 26.7% to the overall industrial growth, crude petroleum production put up the worst performance with a negative growth of 0.7% against 9.4% growth in the year-ago period. The petroleum refinery sector grew by 6.9%, about half last year’s figure of 13.4%.

Electricity generation also fared poorly with a growth of 4.3% against last year’s 11.5%, while cement grew just 5% compared with 16.5% last year.

But coal went from a negative 0.8% to a positive 6.2%, and finished steel maintained the double-digit figure of 10.3%. The infrastructure growth numbers came on top of Monday’s release of figures for growth in industrial output, which declined to 6.4% in September from 12% last year.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram said on Tuesday that it was too early to judge whether a slowdown has set in. “I don’t think we can draw a conclusion from one month’s figure, but overall services and industry are likely to grow between 9% and 10% this fiscal."

A sharp drop in growth of electricity generation and a negative trend for crude oil production are “of serious concern", an Assocham official said. Even as crude oil prices are nearing $100 (Rs3,940) per barrel in the international market, growth in the domestic production for the first six months of 2007-08 has not kept pace with the previous year. The April-September crude petroleum production was up by a mere 0.7% compared with 4.1% a year ago.

Refinery products put up a growth of 9.8% in the first half of this year against the 12.3% growth last year.

A better performance in the earlier months of the first half saw electricity generation grow by 7.6% against 6.7% in the first half of the last fiscal, despite a bad show in September.

Capacity constraint seems to have limited the growth in the cement sector, which grew by 8.3% during April-September this year against 10.6% in the same period last year.