Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Vizag Steel Plant movement crosses 100-day mark

Visakhapatnam: The movement against the move to privatize Vizag Steel Plant (VSP) has completed one hundred days on Saturday, 22 May 2021. Because of Covid-19, the movement has not picked up momentum but the workers and the people of Andhra Pradesh are very keen that the Plant should continue in public sector. People of Telangana also are emotionally with the workers of the Steel Plant. K. Taraka Rama Rao, son of Telagnana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, had publicly announced his support to the movement  offering to go to Vizag to demonstrate his solidarity.

Union Steel Minister Dhirendra Pradhan has time and again said that the privatization was meant to convert loss making firms into profit making ones. But people know that the minister was hiding the real intentions of the government which has been in favour of a few corporate houses. The fact that  the VSP made profit even during last year which was affected by Covid goes to prove the Union Steel Minister and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman were wrong in their perspective. All trade unions and all political parties, except the BJP, have been supporting the movement of the Steel Plant workers.

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly which had one day budget session last week had passed a resolution requesting the centre not to privatise VSP. Mega Star Chiranjeevi, a former union minister,  had given a statement supporting the unions. Ganta Srinivasa Rao, former minister, submitted his resignation to the membership of Assembly some months ago. Rakesh Tikait and some other farm leaders from Delhi came all the way to Vizag to declare their solidarity with the movement and the workers. The State government has proposed ways and means to run the plant in profits while keeping it in public sector. VSP is not like any other public sector factory. It was achieved by the people of united Andhra Pradesh through protracted movement in which scores of people were killed. It has an emotional factor to take into account.

Moreover, the Plant would have been in profits had the Centre arranged a captive coalmine as it did in the case of all other steel plants in the country whether in public  sector or private sector. When the government could allocate a captive unit to a private sector company why could it not do so for a public sector organization which employed thousands of people.  It was the problem not only with the NDA government. Even UPA governments did not allocate captive mine to Vizage Plant. The MPs from AP were also responsible for the apathy. The reason for the losses is the fact that while all other steel plants have their own mines, Vizag Steel Plant is forced to buy coal in open market for exorbitant price. AP Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had suggested that the loan amount against the Plant could be rescheduled and funds for operative expenses could be arranged to lead the Plant into profits. But the government is bent upon its decision to privatise. Niramala Sitaraman has reiterated the stand of her government in Parliament and outside that the decision to privatise the VSP is irrevocable. The people of Andhra Pradesh are equally resolute in their decision not to allow privatisaion of VSP at any cost.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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