VISL employees pin hopes on Kumaraswamy

The Union Minister is learnt to have discussed issues related to its revival at his first meeting with officers of Steel Ministry in Delhi

Published - June 11, 2024 09:09 pm IST

Union Minister of Steel and Heavy Industries H.D. Kumaraswamy being greeted as he assumes office, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Union Minister of Steel and Heavy Industries H.D. Kumaraswamy being greeted as he assumes office, in New Delhi on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: PTI


Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s new role as Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel has rejuvenated the hopes of employees of Visvesaraya Iron and Steel Ltd. (VISL) at Bhadravati, who have been demanding that the sick unit be revived.

Mr. Kumaraswamy is learnt to have discussed issues related to the VISL revival at his first meeting with officers of Steel Ministry in Delhi.

The industry, set up by the erstwhile rulers of Mysore in 1923, was once known widely for quality steel production. However, in recent years, the industry, a unit of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL), has been in a bad state. In January 2023, the SAIL Board decided to close it, triggering protests by employees.

HDK’s visit

Mr. Kumaraswamy, ahead of the State Assembly polls in 2023, had extended support to the protesters. During his visit to Bhadravati on February 3, 2023, he assured the workers that he would not allow the unit to be closed and would make efforts to rejuvenate it if his party came to power in the State.

“Now, he has become Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel, and VISL comes under it. He has a great opportunity. We have high hopes on him. We are all happy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allotting him this Ministry,” said J. Jagadish, president of VISL Workers’ Association.

Following protests and efforts by elected representatives, SAIL, allowed partial operations at VISL with limited staff. At present, only the primary mill, bar mill, and forge plant are working. As many as 196 permanent employees, 50 executives, and around 1,200 contract employees are working. The contract employees get jobs for 13 days a month.


The blast furnace and steel-making shop have remained defunct since January 2017. “The machinery is too old and not in working condition. Besides, the buildings are also in a dilapidated state. There is a need for investment for the rejuvenation of the unit,” he said.

The SAIL has proposed to invest ₹1 lakh crore for its expansion. “We are demanding that if ₹15,000 crore to ₹20,000 crore is invested, VISL will be revived. A 2 million-tonne-capacity production unit can be set up. This will help generate employment and boost the economy of Bhadravati and Shivamogga,” Mr. Jagadish said.

The State government had allotted 150 acres in Ballari district for the mining activity of SAIL-VISL. The proposal is yet to be cleared by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. “The VISL is ready for compensatory afforestation activity to compensate the forest land allotted for mining,” he added.

On Tuesday, representatives of the employees’ association met Shivamogga Lok Sabha member B.Y. Raghavendra, who has been elected for the fourth term, and discussed the future efforts to revive the industry.

“Mr. Raghavendra has been making efforts to keep the unit functioning. He told us that he would take a delegation of workers to Mr. Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru next week. We will invite Mr. Kumaraswamy to VISL and appeal to him to fulfil our demands, he said.

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