Staff Reporter

Plant’s surplus land can be sold to fund expansion: MLC

VSP should not be denied the sops given to private sector, says round table

Tax holiday for the steel plant sought

VISAKHAPATNAM: There is no need for the Government to disinvest 25 per cent of its share in the profit-making Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) and any attempt to privatise the plant should be opposed tooth and nail by all trade unions, irrespective of their political affiliations. This was the broad consensus arrived at a round table conference here on Monday.

Deputy Leader of Progressive Democratic Front in the Legislative Council M.V.S. Sarma ridiculed the Government for trying to ‘promote private industries at the cost of PSUs’. He alleged that Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was evincing keen interest in promoting Brahmani Steels by trying to meet its needs like captive mines and getting various concessions. He was, however, not taking any measures to secure captive mines for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, he said.

‘Political problem’

He said the VSP was paying Rs.2,500 crores by way of taxes to the Government. At a time when the plant was planning expansion, the Government should declare a tax holiday for it. He said concessions were being given to private industries in allotment of land, supply of power and water and even training was being given to their staff at Government expense. These concessions should not be denied to the public sector.

Mr. Sarma declared the issue a ‘political problem’ that needed a political answer. He recalled that all political parties had promised to safeguard the interests of the VSP before the last elections. He alleged that Union Minister of State for Mines T. Subbarami Reddy failed to take any positive steps to sanction captive mines for the plant. The Mayor and the Visakhapatnam MP should also be made to take a stand on the issue. Presiding, chairperson of People for India, Visakhapatnam Forum, K.V. Ramana said when VSP was set up 29,000 acres of land was acquired displacing 50,000 families. When the move was questioned, it was said that the land was needed for expansion. He felt that the funds required for the second phase expansion could be met by the sale of surplus land instead of inviting private participation. VSP was given the ‘mini Ratna’ status and had reserve funds to the tune of Rs.7,100 crores. Banks would be eager to provide loans for the expansion project. Steel Executives Association president Mastan Rao, BMS representative Srinivas, TNTUC leader Pydi Raju, HSL Employees Union representative Varma, Telecom Employees Union leader Raju, Insurance Employees Union representative Vijay Kumar and Medical Representatives Union leader Chandramouli spoke.