VISAKHAPATNAM: The agitation against the strategic sale of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, being spearheaded by Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, gained further momentum with a large number of steel workers laying siege to the Vizag steel plant’s administrative block on Tuesday. Braving the rain, they picketed the building for over three hours, and did not allow officials, employees and workers to enter it apart from restricting vehicular movement in the area.
The entire area reverberated with ‘Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku’ and ‘Modi Hatao Steel Plant Bachao’ slogans by the steel plant workers. Addressing them, the porata committee leaders warned the steel plant management that they will not allow any advisors appointed by the Centre for the 100 per cent disinvestment of RINL to enter the steel plant. “The privatisation is a grand plan by the BJP government to hand over the steel plant to the party’s henchmen. Telugu people will not stay quiet if the plant, which has been providing succour to over a lakh people, is privatised,” they said.
They added the agitation is gaining strength with each passing day and they will not let the government to go ahead with its plan. “It is unfortunate that there is now a question mark over the future of the plant after 30 years of its existence. The management is not focusing on maintenance of the plant and requirement of spare parts. Though there are many handicaps, VSP achieved the best results in production even during the pandemic.” Despite the inclement weather, the workers started gathering even before 8 am and joined the porata committee leaders who staged a sit-in. The traffic to the steel plant came to a screeching halt due to the agitation.
A large number of security personnel and police were deployed to maintain law and order. Employees from Telangana at the plant, led by president of Telangana Employees’ Welfare Association, G Anand participated in the dharna and extended their full support to the ukku agitation.Porata committee chairman Ch Narasinga Rao said all leaders, including NCP president Sharad Pawar, in Delhi extended their full support to the steel plant agitation.
Owing to the agitation, bids for transaction and legal advisors were deferred three times and none filed the bids till now. Even if they file bids they will not be allowed them to enter the plant, Narasinga Rao remarked. Another chairman of the committee D Adinarayana said the Central government has no right to sell the steel plant since it was achieved due to sacrifices of 32 people.