VISAKHAPATNAM: Visakha Ukku agitation 2.0 got a fillip on Saturday with the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant workers taking out a huge two-wheeler rally from VSP to Saraswati Park in protest against the Centre’s move to privatise the plant. The roads through which the rally passed reverberated with slogans of ‘save steel plant’ by workers led by Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee.
The leaders who participated in the rally denounced the BJP government’s latest move to expedite the strategic sale of RINL, the corporate entity of VSP. They demanded resignation of MLAs and MPs from the State to press for revocation of the privatisation move. The two-wheeler rally joined another rally taken out from Saraswati Park to Gandhi statue near GVMC office where a mahasabha was organised to mark 100 days of the relay hunger strike being organised by all-party workers unions and Praja Sanghala JAC. Dance troupes of Praja Natya Mandali and CITU workers holding umbrellas with slogans of ‘save Vizag steel plant’ were the centre of attraction.
Speaking at the meeting, CITU state general secretary and former MLA Md Gafoor and AITUC state secretary Obulesu said the Centre was responsible for the losses suffered by the steel plant. “Had captive mines been sanctioned, the plant would have earned profits,’’ they observed.
The BJP government will face consequences if it further expedites the privatisation process, they warned.
Porata committee chairman Ch Narasinga Rao said the Modi government was trying to privatise the plant with an eye on the huge chunk of lands of RINL. AITUC state secretary Obulesu said the steel plant can be saved only through people’s agitation. He said the Centre, which gave captive mines to Gali Janardhana Reddy, did not allocate any mine to the steel plant, which paid Rs 45,000 crore in the form of taxes and dividends.
Former minister and TDP leader Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy said an all-party committee has given a call for ‘Chalo Delhi’ on July 27 and 28. He said TDP MPs will raise the steel plant issue along with bifurcation promises in Parliament. CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna said a roundtable against privatisation of steel plant will be held at Dasari Bhavan at Hanumanpet in Vijayawada on July 12.