Iron and Steel Industry in India

The Iron and Steel industry is one of the oldest and most important industries in India. During 2014 and 2016, India was the largest producer of raw steel. In 2019, India became the world’s largest producer of sponge iron and the second-largest steel producer in the world after China. India is also the third-largest finished steel consumer in the world after China and the USA.

The history of the Iron and Steel Industry in India is more than 4000 years old. The famous iron pillar near Qutub Minar in Delhi dates back to 350 AD. On modern lines, the first attempt to produce iron and steel was made in 1830 at Porto Nova, near Chennai (Tamil Naidu). However, the attempt was not successful as the smelting of iron ore was done with the help of charcoal.

In 1874, Pig iron was produced for the first time by Bombay Iron Works. In 1907, the actual progress of the iron and steel industry started when J.N. Tata set up the smelting factor at Sakchi ( now Jamshedpur). Subsequently, in 1918, the Indian Iron and Steel Company Limited (IISCO) was established at Hirapur (a small village near the Asansol district of West Bengal). In 1923, Visveswaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL) was set up at Bhadravati (Karnataka).

During the Second Five-Year Plan (1956-61), there was tremendous progress in the Iron and Steel Industry when the Indian Government set up Steel plants at Bhilai, Durgapur, and Raurkela in collaboration with the Soviet, British, and Geman governments, respectively. In 1964, the Bokaro Iron and Steel Plant was set up with the help of the Russian Government. In the Fifth Five-Year Plan, the resolution was made to establish iron and steel plants at Paradwip, Vijaynagar, Salem, and Vishakhapatnam.

In January 1973, the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) was set up under the Ministry of Steel. Most of the public sector undertakings (PSUs) market their steel through the SAIL.

In 1991, the LPG economic reforms initiated by the Government added new dimensions to industrial growth in general and the iron & steel industry in particular. The Indian steel industry was de-licensed, except for certain locational restrictions. Restrictions on external trade were removed in both imports and export with reductions in import duties.

Major Iron and Steel Plants in India

Iron and Steel Plants are located near the iron ore deposits or coal mines, as it consumes a heavy quantity of iron ore and coal. The raw material used in the iron and steel industry includes manganese, flux, limestone, dolomite, fireclay, water, etc. Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are rich in raw materials required for the smelting of iron ore. Some important Iron and Steel Plants in India are as follow:

1. Tata Iron and Steel Company, Jamshedpur

Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) is the oldest steel plant in India established in 1907, located in the Jamshedpur district of Jharkhand, at the confluence of the Subernrekha and Kharkai rivers. Pig iron production started here in 1908 and Steel production in 1911. It obtains high-grade hematite iron ore from the Noamundi mines (Jharkhand) and the Badampahar mines of Mayurbhanj (Odisha). Coal is available from Jharia and Raniganj coalfields. It produces pig iron, acid steel for making railway wheels, high-grade steel, corrugated sheets, axles, bars, bolts, steel casting, and tinplates.

2. Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO), Burnpur

Indian Iron and Steel Company (set up in 1918) and the Steel Corporation of Bengal (founded in 1927) were merged together in 1952 into the Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO). It consists of three separate steel plants at Kulti, Hirapur, and Burnpur in West Bengal. In 1972, the Government took over the management of these steel plants. Iron ore is available from the Gua mines of Jharkhand and the Mayurbhanj area of Odisha. It obtains coal from the Ramnagar mines of Jharia. Cheap hydroelectricity is available from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and water from the Damodar river.

3. Visveswaraya Iron and Steel Plant, Bhadravati

The Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plants, formerly known as Mysore Iron and Steel Limited, was set up in 1923 at Bhadravati in Karnataka. In 1962, the plant was taken over by the Central Government. High-grade hematite iron ore comes from the Kudremukh and Baba Budan Hills in the Chikmaglur district of Karnataka. It is one of the major producers of alloy and special steel in India.

4. Durgapur Iron and Steel Plant

The Durgapur Iron and Steel Plant was set up in 1956 with the help of British Companies, located in the Bardhaman district of West Bengal, along the Damodar river. The production started here in 1962. It produces ingot steel. Iron ore is available from the Singhbum (Jharkhand) and Kendujhar iron ore mines of Odisha. It obtains coal from Jharia and Raniganj coalfields, manganese from Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, and water from the Damodar river.

5. Bhilai Iron and Steel Plant

The Bhilai Iron and Steel Plant was established in 1959 with the help of the Russian Government in the Durg district of Chhattisgarh. It obtains rich haematite iron ore from the Dalli-Rajhara mines of Chattisgarh. The coal is available from the Korba coalfield of Chhattisgarh, Bokaro & Jharia coalfields of Jharkhand. It procures manganese from Balaghat of Madhya Pradesh and Bhandara of Maharashtra, limestone from Nandini mines of Bhilai, and power from the Korba Thermal power station. The plant specially produces pig iron, crude steel, and plates for the shipbuilding industry.

6. Raurkela Iron and Steel Plant

Raurkela Iron and Steel Plant was set up in 1959 with the help of a West German firm (Krupps and Demang), located in the Sundargarh district of Odisha. It obtains iron ore from Mayurbhanj in Odisha, coal from Bokaro & Jharia coalfields in Jharkhand, Talcher coalfield in Odisha, and Korba in Chhattisgarh. Maganese is available from Sundargarh in Odisha, water from the koel river, and hydro-power from the Hirakud Dam. The plant mainly produces hot-rolled sheets, cold-rolled sheets, galvanized sheets, and electrical steel plates.

7. Bokaro Steel Plant

The Bokaro Steel Plant was established in 1964 with the help of the Soviet collaboration in Jharkhand. The production started here in 1972. It obtains iron ore from Kiriburu mines, coal from Bokaro, Jharia, and Kargali coalfield, limestone from Palamu district, and water from the Tenu dam across the Damodar river. It mainly produces hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheets, coils, and plates.

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