Iron and steel industry is a basic industry and its products serve as a raw material for a number of other industries.
Although iron and steel manufacturing activity in India is very old, modern iron and steel industry started with the establishment of ‘Bengal Iron and Steel Works’ at Kulti in West Bengal in 1817. Tata Iron and Steel company was established at Jamshedpur in 1907. This was followed by ‘Indian Iron and Steel plant’ at Burnpur in 1919. All the three plants were established in the private sector.
The first public sector iron and steel plant, which is now known as ‘Visvesvarayya Iron and Steel works’, was established at Bhadrawati in 1923.
The iron and steel industry made rapid progress after independence. The production capacity has increased in all the existing units. Three new integrated steel plants were established at Rourkela, Bhilai and Durgapur. Bokaro steel plant was established under public sector in 1964. Bokaro and Bhilai plants were set up with the collaboration of the former Soviet Union.
Durgapur steel plant was set up in Collaboration with United Kingdom while Rourkela plant was established with the help of Germany. Vishakhapattnam and Salem plants were set up afterwards.
At the time of independence, India produced only a small quantity of iron and steel. Production of finished steel in the country was only 10 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 which has increased to 23.8 million tonnes in 1998-99.
The major iron and steel plants of India are situated in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Besides there are about 200 mini steel plants in India with a capacity of 6.2 million tonnes per annum. Mini steel plants produce steel from scrap or sponge iron.
These units constitute an important component of iron and steel industry in the country. Most of the steel plants are located in and around Chhota Nagpur plateau which is endowed with rich deposits of iron ore, coal, manganese and limestone.