Vizagites show strength of steel to save Rashtriya Ispat

Visakhapatnam Steel Plant employees take part in a massive bike rally to protest against the move to privatise the steel plant, in Visakhapatnam
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Visakhapatnam Steel Plant employees take part in a massive bike rally to protest against the move to privatise the steel plant, in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

In the 1960s, the fight was for establishing a steel plant in Visakhapatnam. Decades later, the battle is for saving the organisation from the clutches of privatisation.

Visakhapatnam: In the 1960s, the fight was for establishing a steel plant in Visakhapatnam. Decades later, the battle is for saving the organisation from the clutches of privatisation. The agitation with the slogan 'Visakha vukku, Andhrula hakku' not only reverberated across the City of Destiny as well as the state then but did not rest until it drew the attention of the Union government.

After a long drawn battle, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) was founded in 1971 even though the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi announced to establish the plant in 'Vizagapatam' a year before. In 1992, former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao dedicated the VSP to the nation.

Upgrading steadily, Vizag the steel plant, also known as Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, is currently operating with a production capacity of 7.3 million tonnes. However, with in-principle approval for 100 per cent strategic disinvestment of the Government of India shareholding in RINL coming in place, the worst fears of the employees have finally come true. With the announcement of privatisation in the Budget-2021, scores of employees, trade union representatives took out a massive protest followed by a rally against the Centre's decision of privatisation.

Expressing solidarity with the agitators, Visakhapatnam MP MVV Satyanarayana says, "The issue will be taken up in Parliament and will mount pressure on the Centre to take back its decision of privatising the VSP." Already, the MP wrote three letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to withdraw the move.

Sharing similar views, Anakapalle MP BV Satyavathi mentioned that the need to save the steel plant rests on all the stakeholders. "The establishment of the plant is a result of several sacrifices and privatising it is unbearable," she opines.

Meanwhile, Visakhapatnam North MLA Ganta Srinivasa Rao tweeted that the Centre should withdraw its decision with immediate effect. He appealed to the government not to view Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited as an industry but as an honour of Andhra people. His tweet further mentioned that if the Centre refused to budge, the agitation will intensify more than the one the farmers have taken up in New Delhi to repeal the three farm laws. Further, speaking to the media, the MLA says, "In order to save the plant, public representatives should be prepared to tender their resignation letters."

Taking part in the agitation, VVGSD Prasad of CITU says, "If required, we are also ready to take up 'Chalo Amaravati' and 'Chalo Delhi'. The agitation that started to establish a steel plant will continue to save it from privatisation." In a deviation of stance within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and its Andhra Pradesh wing, party state president Somu Veerraju said AP BJP leaders will definitely fight for Visakhapatnam steel plant on Friday.

"We will definitely fight for Visakhapatnam," said Veerraju. He reminded that the steel plant came to Visakhapatnam after a massive movement some decades ago when he was a school boy and invoked Amruta Rao's name, a Dalit MLA who fought for it.

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