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At the time of independence in 1947, India had only three steel plants - the Tata Iron & Steel Company, the Indian Iron and Steel Company and Visveswaraya Iron & Steel Ltd and a few electric arc furnace-based plants. The period till 1947 thus witnessed a small but viable steel industry in the country, which operated with a capacity of about 1 million tons and was completely in the private sector. From the fledgling one million tons capacity status at the time of independence, India has now risen to be the 5th largest crude steel producer in the world and the largest producer of sponge iron.

According to the Steel Ministry’s Annual Report (2009-10), the Iron and Steel Industry contributes around 2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its weight in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is 6.2 per cent. From a negligible global presence, the Indian steel industry is now globally acknowledged for its product quality.

The following table highlights the total as also the contribution of the private and public sector in crude steel production in the country:

Indian Crude Steel Production (in Million Tonne)
  2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10*
Public Sector 16.964 17.003 17.091 16.372 12.483
Private Sector 29.496 33.814 36.766 42.065 33.292
Total Production 46.460 50.817 53.857 58.437 45.775
% of Public Sector 36.5 33.5 32 28 27
Source: JPC
* - Provisional
(Source: Ministry of Steel, GOI, Annual Report 2009-10)

According to the projections made by the Steel Ministry in its annual report (2009-10), India is expected to maintain its lead in Sponge Iron in the near future and is expected to become the second largest producer of steel in the world by 2015-16, provided all requirements for fresh capacity creation are met.