Special Correspondent

It is a victory for our collective efforts: Coordination committee

Employees saw a ray of hope in Paswan's visit `Minister had promised to initiate efforts to allocate funds for upgrade'`It is the initiative of the UPA Government at the Centre that has made this dream-come-true'

Salem: It is despair turned jubilation for employees, citizens and trade union activists who have welcomed the approval of the Board of Directors of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to expand the Salem Steel Plant (SSP) at an indicative cost of Rs. 1,553 crore.

Uncertain future

Till recently, the plant and its 1,600-strong workforce have been facing an uncertain future with its mounting losses and fears of privatisation that gained force, particularly during the then NDA Government at the Centre.

It has been a long-drawn-out battle with leading citizens of the city joining the employees in fighting tenaciously the disinvestment move.

Privatisation bid

Chief Ministers of past and the present and political parties also joined the struggle against the privatisation bid.

Tamil Nadu Assembly even passed a resolution.

Prolonged struggle

"It is a victory for our collective efforts," says Panneerselvam, coordinator of `Save the Salem Steel Plant Coordination Committee', spearheading the plant's prolonged struggle.

He further adds that it is the initiative of the UPA Government at the Centre that has made this `dream-come-true' project viable. "We thank wholeheartedly DMK and other allies and Left parties that stood by us in times of crisis," he says.

Upgrading

The employees saw a ray of hope for the revival of the plant in the visit of the Union Minister of Steel, Ram Vilas Paswan, to Salem last year.

On an invitation from the Salem MP, K.V. Thankgabalu, and the employees, the Minister visited the plant and promised that it would not be privatised. He said he would initiate efforts to allocate funds for its upgrade. "He has kept his promise," the employees say.

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