The Indian iron smelting industry declined in the nineteenth century for the following reasons.
→ The forest laws implemented by the colonial administration prevented the free movement of people in reserved forests. Charcoal - an essential ingredient in the iron smelting process - could therefore not be obtained easily.
→ When in some areas the government did grant access to the forests, the iron smelters were in return required to pay a very high amount in tax to the forest department for every furnace they used. This reduced their income.
→ By the late nineteenth century, iron and steel was being imported from Britain. Ironsmiths began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements. This reduced the demand for iron produced by local smelters.
→ In the late nineteenth century, a series of famines devastated the dry tracts of India. As a result, many of the local smelters stopped work, deserted their villages, and migrated, looking for some other work to survive the hard times.