VISAKHAPATNAM: The agitation against the Centre’s decision to privatise the Vizag Steel Plant gathered momentum as hundreds of people led by the Visakha Ukku Nirvasitula Sangham and Visakha Ukku Nirvasitula Contract Labour marched towards the collectorate on Wednesday demanding that the Union government withdraw its strategic sale plan.
The rally led by former CBI joint director VV Lakshminarayana and political and trade union leaders started from Saraswati Park and reached the collectorate. Mild tension prevailed as the activists tried to breach the police cordon. The rally threw the traffic out of gear in the busy Dabagardens, Jagadamba and collectorate areas. The agitators demanded that 8,000 R Card holders of displaced families are yet to get jobs in the steel plant. The state government has responsibility to ensure justice for them, they said.
Addressing the rally, Lakshmi Narayana said Visakhapatnam Steel Plant was the heartbeat of the people of Andhra Pradesh and it was not correct to privatise the plant. He said he filed a PIL in the High Court against privatisation of the steel plant. TDP Visakhapatnam president Palla Srinivasa Rao said the YSRC was dilly dallying over adopting a resolution against the steel plant privatisation. He said the state government has equal responsibility to ensure justice to project oustees since the latter entered into an agreement with the state government when they gave lands for the steel plant.
Surcharged atmosphere prevailed at the collectorate area as they raised slogans such as ‘Vizag Ukku Andhrula Hakku’. Displaced persons from Nellimukku rehabilitation colony said 50 per cent R Card holders are looking for employment in the plant. “However, at a time when we are hoping that expansion will bring jobs to us, the Centre decided to privatise the plant, dashing our hopes,” said one of the project oustees. The agitators said they would intensify the agitation to make the Centre change its decision. “We will not allow privatisation of the plant at any cost,” an agitator said.
A 10-member delegation met the joint collector and submitted a memorandum demanding that the Centre withdraw its decision on privatisation. Trade unions and praja sanghala convener M Jaggu Naidu, CPI assistant secretary JV Satyanarayana Murthy, Jana Sena leader Kona Tata Rao, INTUC leader Mantri Rajasekhar were present.
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