Visakhapatnam: Former minister and TDP's Visakha North MLA Ganta Srinivasa Rao submitted his resignation letter to the Speaker on 6 February to show his opposition against the proposed privatization of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, the corporate entity of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL). Commissioned in 1978, the steel plant employs 17,500 directly and another 20,000 indirectly. The plant also benefits small traders in and around the steel plant.

Visakhapatnam Steel Plant employees supported by 16 trade unions continued their protest against the privatization of the steel plant for the second day on Friday. On Saturday, The employees took out a massive motorcycle rally from the steel plant to the Gandhi statue at RTC Complex where they staged a sit-in and addressed a rally.

The dharna was attended by Vizag and Anakapalle Lok Sabha members MVV Satyanrayana and K Satyavathi, Gajuwaka MLA Tippala Nagi Reddy and TDP MLA Velagapudi Ramakrishnababu. State president of CITU Ch Narsinga Rao, CPI State joint secretary JV Satyanarayana Murthy and president of Steel Plant Employees Union J Ayodhyaram were also present.

The ruling YSRCP is also awaiting the decision of the Central government on the proposed privatization of the steel plant. Meanwhile, Left parties and their frontal trade unions have decided to launch a statewide agitation till the Central government drops the proposal of 100 per cent disinvestment of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.

The honorary president of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant Union, Dr. B. Ganga Rao, told reporters that the Left unions will launch an agitation in various forms and at different places that will later intensify into a statewide agitation. He alleged that the government was determined to disinvest the steel plant in a bid to hand over India's only shore-based plant to domestic or foreign companies.

The CPI state joint secretary, J.V Satyanarayana Murthy, said people of Andhra Pradesh were emotionally attached to the Vizag Steel Plant. "It was not an easy task to establish the steel plant. Nine minors were among the 32 people who made sacrifices for the plant. It is the pride of the state,'' he said, adding that the plant also faced difficult times. It was referred to BIFR in 1999 but soon made a turnaround and made profits with which it could launch an expansion. After the expansion, the plant production went up to 6.8 million tons per annum. There were plans to further expand production to 20 million tons.



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