- Class 8 NCERT – Resources and development geography
- The question is based on the location factor of the raw material and its significance in deciding the location of the Steel and Heavy industry per se.
- In the intro, in brief, highlight the locations of coal-iron resources in India.
- In the main body, first, explain why the steel and iron industries were initially located in and around the raw material regions and now there has been a shift from such a trend.
- Discuss the causative factors of such a trend; transport factor, the use of heavy machines to transport etc.
- Explain that the capital, market and transport are the other factors influencing the localization of iron and steel industry.
- Conclude with the significance of development in general that has led to such a trend.
Many important geographical factors are involved in the location of individual industries which are of relative significance. But besides such purely geographical factors influencing industrial location, there are factors of historical, human, political and economic nature which are now tending to surpass the force of geographical advantages.
Despite the depletion of coal-iron resources, the steel and heavy engineering industries don’t frequently shift their location due to the following reasons:
- It takes a lot of time and money to build a factory and equip it with the necessary machines. This discourages the entrepreneur from shifting to a new location, especially for the steel industry, heavy engineering works, petrochemical refineries.
- It is usually cheaper to modernize or expand an existing location rather than move to a new site.
- For example, as the cotton industry of Lakeshire declined, they converted textile mills into light engineering goods factories, rather than moving to a different location.
- As time progressed, area near coal fields developed into industrial cities. There is already a large pool of skilled and experienced workers, support services. New area may not have the same labour supply
- Technology and alternative sources of fuel:
- Today, coal is not the only source of energy. We’ve natural gas, hydel electricity even nuclear power.
- With the introduction of new technologies in steel production, there is no need a massive amount of coking coal.
- The railroad, transport and communication infrastructure = well-developed in the old area. Therefore, even if the local raw material supply is exhausted, they can be imported from other areas.
- Iron and steel industries provide raw material to many secondary manufacturing industries such as automobile, heavy engineering etc.
- If the primary industries moved to a new location but the corresponding Customers like automobile / heavy engineering industries don’t change location, then it will affect the profit level.
- Government policies:
- The industrialists in old area usually have deep pockets and political connections so they lobby to the government for favourable protectionist policies and large labour population in the old area which acts a vote bank.
- For example, Pittsburgh is not a coastal city and nearby coal-iron ore reserves are getting depleted and it was becoming more expensive to produce steel using imported iron-ore.
- But then Pittsburgh industrialists lobbied, and US government made steel-pricing policies like “Multiple Basing system”, “Pittsburgh plus” etc. (in the early 1900s).
The other raw materials besides iron ore and coking coal, essential for iron and steel industry are limestone, dolomite, manganese and fire clay. All these raw materials are gross (weight losing), therefore, the best location for the iron and steel plants is near the source of raw materials. In India, there is a crescent-shaped region comprising parts of Chhattisgarh, Northern Odisha, Jharkhand and western West Bengal, which is extremely rich in high-grade iron ore, good quality coking coal and other supplementing raw materials.