The growth rate of infrastructure sectors accelerated to a 15-month high of 5.7 per cent in February due to a sharp pick-up in fertiliser and cement output and higher production of electricity during the month, official figures released on Thursday showed. The eight core sectors-coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity- had grown 2.3 per cent in February last year. It is the highest growth since November 2014, when these sectors had witnessed a growth of 6.7 per cent.
Fertiliser output shot up by 16.3 per cent while cement production recorded double-digit growth of 13.5 per cent during the month. Electricity generation went up 9.2 per cent as there was no shortage of coal. Crude oil grew by 0.8 per cent, natural gas 1.2 per cent with refinery products such as petrol and diesel recording 8.1-per cent growth, in February year-on-year. The growth of coal production slowed to 3.9 per cent from 10.8 per cent in February 2015.
However, the steel industry continued to be an area of concern with its output shrinking (-)0.5 per cent compared with the same month last year. The domestic steel industry has been battered by cheap Chinese imports and both Steel Authority of India Limited as well private sector companies such as Tata Steel and Essar have been piling up losses. The cumulative growth of the core industries in April-February period of 2015-16 came in at 2.3 per cent, lower than 5 per cent in the 11 months of the previous financial year.