Workers serving with Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP), a public sector unit in Bhadravati, staged a protest in the city on Monday opposing the proposal for disinvestment in the firm.
As part of the protest, the workers took out a 16 km bike rally from Bhadravati to Shivamogga city. On reaching Shivamogga city, they took out a padayatra from Government Science College ground to the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office.
Addressing a protest meet at the DC’s office, J.N. Chandrahas, president, VISP Workers’ Union, said the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) that owns VISP has floated tenders inviting applications from qualified bidders for the engagement of asset valuer, legal adviser and transaction adviser for disinvestment in the firm.
The move by SAIL has created apprehension among VISP workers. The disinvestment or privatisation of VISP was detrimental to the interests of the workers. A delegation of workers from Bhadravati and elected representatives of the district had met Chaudhary Birender Singh, Union Minister for Steel, in New Delhi recently and had requested him to drop the move for disinvestment in VISP and provide necessary funds to modernise the firm. Mr. Singh told the delegation that the SAIL would invest funds to modernise VISP if the State government sanctions captive mines for the firm. Mr. Chandrahas demanded that the State government expedite the process of sanctioning of captive mines for VISP at NEB range and Ramanadurga range in Ballari district.
The allotment of captive mines would result in reduction in production cost and thereby bring the firm back on the path of profit. The management should also invest funds for modernisation of VISP. MPs from Karnataka should pressurise the Union government to direct SAIL to drop the disinvestment proposal, he said. The protesters submitted a memorandum to the DC’s office.