Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Wednesday met Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, a Joint Action Committee that’s fighting against the proposed privatisation of the steel plant and assured them of protecting it from being sold. After the meeting, the steel plant trader union leaders told the media that the Chief Minister had assured them that he would not allow POSCO to take over the RINL-Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The CM had suggested the steel giant to set up their plants at Kadapa or Krishnapatnam.
He reportedly also admitted to the JAC that he had meetings with the POSCO delegates, but for their investment interest in other places in the state. The Chief Minister, during his brief visit to the port city on Wednesday, assured the JAC leaders that the state government would pass a resolution in the Assembly, asking the Centre not to go ahead with the proposed strategic sale. “There is no second thought about it,” Jagan asserted. He said he had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi listing three alternatives to the proposed disinvestment but there was no reply yet from the Centre.
“The state government is sincerely committed to protecting the steel plant,” the Chief Minister summed up. Earlier, The Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee requested Jagan to immediately convene a session of the Assembly and pass a resolution opposing the Centre’s decision.
Leaders of the JAC submitted a three-page memorandum, urging the State Government to exert pressure on the Centre to desist from going ahead with the strategic sale of the steel plant, a Navaratna company owned by the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited. The committee leaders recalled that the Visakha steel plant was set up after a protracted struggle and sacrifice of 32 lives. “The Visakha plant is manufacturing steel of international quality. Till date, the Centre invested only Rs 4,950 crore on the plant whereas it paid a whopping Rs 44,000 crore in the form of taxes and dividends. The state government, too, earned a revenue of Rs 8,565 crore,” they pointed out.
The livelihood of about five lakh persons was directly and indirectly dependent on the steel plant, they said. They alleged that the Centre was seeking to dispose of the plant, worth Rs 3 lakh-crore, for a paltry price of Rs 1,162 crore. “It is unjustified and deplorable that the Centre is seeking to sell away the golden goose to corporates at a throwaway price. Visakha Steel Plant is the pride of AP. We hope the state government will come forward to stop the decision of selling away this jewel,” the Committee leaders told the CM.
Noting that the steel plant did not have captive (iron ore) mines of its own, they wanted the state government to bring pressure on the Centre for allocation of mines that could be the only solution for the protection and development of the plant. “We sincerely hope you will take the initiative and direct all the MPs of AP to talk to the Central government and the ministers concerned on the issue. If the Centre remains adamant, we trust you will take the lead in building a wider and strong movement opposing the sale of the steel plant and protect the interests of the people of the state,” the Committee leaders urged Jagan