Vizag Steel Plant employees take out rally to oppose privatisation

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Employees of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) on Sunday conducted Maha Padyatra demanding the Centre to withdraw its move to privatise the plant.

Leaders of various workers’ unions and the political parties supporting them participated in the Maha Padyatra from their protest camp at Kurmannapalem to the GVMC Gandhi statue.

They demanded that the political parties should make it clear in their manifestos for the coming elections that they oppose the privatisation of VSP.

The protestors were carrying placards and raising slogans opposing the privatisation of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, commonly referred to as Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) joined the workers’ unions in the protest demanding withdrawal of the privatisation bid.

The participants including family members of the workers were carrying placards reading “Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku” (Visakha Steel a right of Andhras), “stop the strategic sale of RINL”, “Re merge RINL with SAIL”

They warned that parties failing to protect VSP will be taught a lesson in the coming elections.

Simultaneous elections to Andhra Pradesh Assembly and Lok Sabha are slated to be held in April-May.

The employees of VSP have been protesting for nearly three years, demanding the Centre to withdraw its move to privatise the public sector undertaking.

The workers had intensified the protest in April last year after the Centre had stated that the disinvestment was in progress.

The Ministry of Steel had stated that there is no freeze on the disinvestment process of RINL.

Employees said that the people of Andhra Pradesh made many sacrifices for the plant and they will not allow the sale of the plant.

In 2021, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly had passed a resolution opposing the disinvestment plans and proposed privatization of VSP.

Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had also written to the Centre, opposing the move to privatise the VSP.

He suggested that the Centre take measures to protect the plant, recover its losses and make it viable.

He also suggested the conversion of debts and loans into equity, allotment of captive iron ore and monetising the company’s land bank for the continuation of the plant.

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