Since the Union government proposed a 100% strategic sale of the Visakhapatnam steelworks (VSP), employees, members of various trade unions and political parties have spoken out against the decision and started an agitation that entered the 100th day on Saturday.
A significant development during the reporting period was that during the legislative assembly’s budget session, the state government passed a resolution opposing the centre’s decision and calling on them to consider alternative solutions to revitalize the steel mill.
The movement for the first integrated onshore steel mill in Visakhapatnam began in 1963 and reached a feverish climax in 1966 after 32 people were killed in police shots across the state, including 12 in Visakhapatnam. The excitement under the “Visakha Ukku – Andhrula Hakku” banner reverberated across the nation.
In 1966 the state government passed a resolution calling for the construction of the Visakhapatnam plant. Finally, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the plant in 1971.
“Although the government decided to privatize a number of power supplies, the case of the VSP is different in that it is shaped by emotions, feelings and history. That is why people all over the country support our agitation, ”said CITU President Ch. Narasinga Rao.
As a symbolic protest, CITU-led employees and unions unveiled a 100-foot banner, and protests were organized in all counties in the state, Narasinga Rao said.
Protests were also carried out at all 11 PSU steel mills and mines across the country, said Ganga Rao of the CPI (M).
Members of the Steel Executives’ Association said agitation would increase in the coming days if the union government did not postpone the idea of strategic sales.
They said VSP used to be profitable and could easily be revived by making some policy changes, such as allocating iron ore mines in captivity.