Visakhapatnam: Reaffirming its opposition to the privatization of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), the ruling YSRCP on Tuesday asked the Centre to rollback its decision and respect the sentiments of people of Andhra Pradesh.

Addressing a joint press conference here on Tuesday, Parliamentary Party leader V Vijayasai Reddy said that Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has proposed an alternative to make VSP a profit-making venture. He has sought an early appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue.

"VSP is an emotional and sentimental issue and the entire state has been opposing the move. It is a matter of great concern for the people of AP, employees of RINL, and other stakeholders. Thirty-two people had laid down lives for this project," he said.

He said apart from adopting a resolution in the State Assembly, they will continue their fight till the Centre rolls back its decision.

"Chief Minister has proposed to allocate captive mines and explore equity options, where the public can make a purchase instead of a private organization," he said.

Elaborating, he said that the plant performed well between 2002 and 2015. "Its downfall started due to the economic crisis from 2015 onwards resulting in debts and losses. The plant is dependent on NMDC mines. Due to the lack of captive mines, the plant has to shell out Rs 3470 crores. Allotting captive mines would reduce input costs. Similarly, all those short and long-term loans could be converted into equity taking off repayment pressures and interest burden," he said.

Minister for Tourism Muttamsetti Srinivas slammed TDP leaders for distorting the facts and blaming the government despite having no role in the VSP privatization.

He said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman has categorically stated that the steel plant comes under the Centre and there is no way that the state government is involved. "But TDP leaders are confusing people. Chandrababu Naidu doesn't have the guts to question the Union Government or write a letter to them. BJP's ally Pawan Kalyan, who contested from Gajuwaka, doesn't dare to ask the Centre to reconsider disinvestment proposal," he said.

MP MVV Satyanarayana and Minister Kurasala Kannababu said the Centre had decided to privatize the steel plant in 2018 when Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister.

The YSRCP leaders have assured that the state government will fight until the Centre changes its decision to withdraw the privatization plans.

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