VISAKHAPATNAM: The agitation against privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is inching towards a flashpoint as employees’ unions have intensified their protests against the Central government filing an affidavit in the High Court reaffirming its stand on VSP disinvestment. Tense situation once again prevailed at the VSP administrative block on Thursday morning when a large number of employees gathered to take part in a dharna organised by the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, which has been spearheading the agitation for the past 168 days.
Even as employees are gearing up for the Chalo Parliament agitation on August 2 and 3, the latest move of the Centre sparked instant protests at the steel plant. The employees gathered at the entrance and stopped buses carrying the first shift staff and did not allow them to go inside. A huge police force was deployed at the steel plant to thwart any untoward incident in view of dharna at the administrative office. The Porata Committee demanded withdrawal of the notification issued to privatise RINL, the corporate entity of VSP.
‘Privatising VSP will hurt people’s sentiments’
“The Centre should realise the situation and reconsider its decision,” they said, adding that all the State MPs should raise their voice in Parliament to highlight the plight of the steel plant workers. Stating that the affidavit filed by the Centre had created unrest among workers, the leaders said they will raise their voice during the dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on August 2 and 3. Denouncing the Centre’s affidavit, Porata Committee chairman Mantri Rajasekhar said the move was nothing but hurting the sentiments of people of the State. He said the Centre was going ahead with its plan to privatise the steel plant despite Assembly resolution and people’s opposition.
Steel plant recognised union president J Ayodhya Ram alleged that the Modi government was trying to hand over VSP to a Gujarat based firm. He said if captive mines are allotted to the steel plant, the employees are ready to make it earn `10 crore profit a day. Porata Committee chairman D Adinarayana said the Centre’s plan to disinvest its stake will face stiff resistance from people. Barring BJP, all parties at the national level are supporting the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant agitation, he said. Meanwhile, Visakhapatnam Mayor and GVMC corporators have decided to stage a dharna on August 2 to express solidarity with the steel plant workers.