Launching their joint campaign against disinvestment, all the trade unions of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on Wednesday appealed to the UPA-II to refrain from selling the equity of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.

The unions, in representations signed by all their leaders, appealed to Union Ministers Beni Prasad Varma (Steel), V. Kishore Chandra Deo (Tribal Welfare), and D. Purandeswari (HRD) to stop divesting 10 per cent of the government's shares.

The bids received from the merchant bankers will be opened by the Department of Disinvestment for evaluation on September 8. Their presentations will be examined by the Inter-Ministerial Group. RINL is the corporate entity of VSP.

The representations signed by CITU, AITUC, INTUC, TNTUC, BMS, HMS, and some independent unions stated that a high-power committee had been set up to pursue and speed up the disinvestment process.

Strongly opposing the move, they said the Centre had revived the proposal under the ground that the Navratna status was conferred with the clause that it would be listed within two years.

They criticised the Centre for not considering the VSP's demand for allotment of captive mines and described how the plant could expand its capacity to 6.3 million tonne without seeking financial help from the Centre. Around Rs.10,000 crore has been spent on expansion works so far without help from Centre.

The plant had paid Rs.1,000 crore as dividends, invested Rs.360 crore in OMDC and Rs.156 crore in coal ventures.

Contribution

The union leaders pointed out that the VSP had contributed tremendously to the exchequer paying taxes to the tune of Rs.21,000 crore since its inception and wondered how the Centre wanted to ‘privatise' the company just for raising Rs.400 crore by selling away 10 per cent of its equity.

The appealed to the UPA-II to understand the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh who fought and sacrificed a lot for establishing the steel plant after spearheading ‘Visakha Ukku Andhurla Hakku' agitation.

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