Andhra Pradesh

VSP privatisation: Nirmala’s statement sparks protests

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement in Parliament on Monday that the Centre would divest its stake in Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) has sparked protests by employees at Kurmannapalem on Monday.

The Finance Minister was replying to questions posed by Visakhapatnam MP M.V.V. Satyanarayana and Araku MP Goddeti Madhavi in the Lok Sabha.

The employees and trade union representatives, who have been organising protests against the decision of the Union government for the past several weeks, stopped traffic on the National Highway at Kurmannapalem on Monday evening after they came to know about the Finance Minister’s statement. The protest is still continuing when the last reports received and the police diverting traffic.

Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee leaders Ch. Narasinga Rao, Mantri Rajasekhar and D. Adinarayana demanded that the Centre come out with a statement on why it had failed to allocate captive mines to the VSP, which would take the plant on the road to profits. They warned that the BJP government would be taught a lesson by the people of the State, if the Centre remained adamant on the issue.

They said that the Centre had invested ₹4,890 crore on the VSP but the plant has contributed ₹44,000 crore in the form of dividends to the Centre, so far. Refuting the statement of Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman that the State government has no stake in the VSP, they recalled that the State had given 22,000 acres of land for establishment of the VSP and continues to provide basic amenities like power and water to the plant and hence is also a stakeholder.

They recalled that Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had assured trade unions in 2019 that no decision would be taken on privatisation of VSP, without consulting them. The committee leaders demanded that the Finance Minister withdraw the statements that the State government has no stake in the plant. Saying that the steel plant administration office would be picketed on March 9 against the decision, they appealed to all employees to participate in the agitation.

Meanwhile, in separate statements on Monday evening, CPI State assistant secretary J.V.S.N. Murthy and CPI(M) Greater Visakha City Committee secretary B. Ganga Rao demanded that the Centre give up its adamant stand on the issue.

Mr. Murthy ridiculed the State BJP leaders for saying that the privatisation of VSP would not take place but failing to do anything on it. He called for united struggle by all political parties to prevent privatisation of VSP.

Mr. Ganga Rao demanded that the State government come out with a statement that it was opposed to the privatisation of VSP. The YSRCP and TDP MPs should corner the Union government in Parliament on the issue, he said.

He also sought resignation of BJP MLC P.V.N. Madhav. He wondered as to how the Jana Sena Party (JSP), which has an alliance with the BJP, seek votes from the people in the GVMC elections.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 6:28:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/vsp-privatisation-nirmalas-statement-sparks-protests/article34023353.ece

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