Vizag steel plant employees protest against govt’s privatization move

"We have been left with no option but to fight it out till the Centre withdraws the proposal,” D Adinarayana, a trade union leader, said.

Vishakapatnam: Hundreds of employees of Rasthtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), popularly called Vizag Steel Plant, on Friday staged a protest in the port city against the BJP-led government’s decision to privatize the mega steel plant. The central Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave in-principle approval for 100 per cent divestment of the mega power plant on Thursday.

“CCEA on 27th Jan 2021 has given in-principle approval for 100% strategic disinvestment of GOI shareholding in RINL along with management control by way of privatization,” stated the tweet posted by Tuhin Kanta, secretary of Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).

“Whatever we have feared all these days has finally happened. We have been left with no option but to fight it out till the Centre withdraws the proposal,” D Adinarayana, a trade union leader of the steel plant said.

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The employee unions participated in the bike rally from Kurmannapalem center to GVMC and rasied slogans against Modi government erroneously privatizing one of the largest state-run steel plants in the country. The employee unions are also planning to tour all parts of the state to highlight the cause.

Though having an installed capacity of 21 million tonnes per year, the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant has presently been operating with a production capacity of only 7.3 million tonnes. Established in 1988 after massive agitations, the RINL has been witnessing several ups and downs in the last two decades.

“The basic reason for this underperformance of the plant is lack of raw material. Unlike Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and other such plants, the VSP does not have its captive iron ore mine. We have been depending on the supplies from the National Mineral Development Corporation and importing coking coal from Austria,” a senior employee of RINL quoted Hindustan Times.

Vizag Steel has around 22,000 acres of land, acquired by the state government. The present market value stands at Rs.5 crore per acre, reports said. The value of the land itself, thus, is more than one lakh crore.

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