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3,000 Vizag steel plant supporters to protest in Delhi in August

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As many as 3,000 workers opposed to the central government’s privatisation plan of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant are planning to protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

“As many as 3,000 workers will leave for Delhi on July 31st and we plan to protest on August 2-3 at Jantar Mantar,” said a worker on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, around 10 VSP workers union leaders are leaving for Delhi to meet opposition party floor leaders in the Parliament and explain about the steel plant and their opposition to its sale plan.

“We will explain the loss that would occur to Visakhapatnam and workers. We will also explain whom the Centre is planning to benefit with this sale,” said a protester.

According to the protesters, Rajya Sabha member and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leader V. Vijayasai Reddy has already assured that he would facilitate meetings with all the political parties’ floor leaders in the Parliament, including the new steel minister.

VSP employees and workers have resolved that they will fight until the central government takes back its privatisation plan.

Several workers fear that privatising the steel plant will lead to the non-implementation of reservation benefits.

“Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-ruled state government is also negotiating with the Centre to continue the steel plant as a government organisation,” he said.

Protesters are venting their anger at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for reiterating its plan to sell away the steel plant in the latest Parliament session.

They noted that the Centre is doing this despite VSP putting up an excellent performance.

Another supporter, who fought for the steel plant as a student, observed that the onus of protecting the steel plant also lies on the shoulders of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.

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Andhra govt reiterates oppn to Vizag Steel Plant sale

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Rajya Sabha member V. Vijayasai Reddy on Thursday reiterated that the Andhra Pradesh government opposed the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), and said the party MPs will vehemently take up the issue during the upcoming Parliament Session.

“We will join forces with labour unions to save VSP and intensify our struggle. We will take on board leaders from other parties as well and stall the Parliament sessions,” said Reddy.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy held a meeting with the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) Parliamentarians and deliberated on various issues.

Following the completion of more than 150 days of protests for saving the steel plant, VSP labour union leaders are contemplating to take their protests to Delhi.

Similarly, he said the ruling party MPs will take up the water dispute issue between the Telugu states in the forthcoming Parliament sessions for protecting the interests of Andhra Pradesh.

He said AP will demand the deployment of Central forces at common reservoirs and the notification of KRMB.

The Parliamentarian lashed out at those people who were targeting the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme.

According to the MP, the YSRCP government has always sought special status for the southern state and reminded that Jagan Mohan Reddy demanded special status on multiple occasions when he met the Prime Minister and other senior leaders in Delhi.

He said there is no compromise with respect to the special category status and castigated former chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu for allegedly “getting sold away to suppress this demand and be content with a special package”.

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Vizag steel plant protests enter 150th day, hundreds rally on bikes

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Agitations and protest movements for stalling central government’s decision to sell Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) have entered 150th on Saturday in the city.

These protests at the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) have also reached 100 days.

On Saturday, several steel plant employees and hundreds of protesters took up a 30-km two-wheeler rally to send across a message to the central government to call off the privatization plan.

The rally is traversing through Kurmannapalem, Vadlamudi, Gajuwaka and other places.

“The central government has ignored the two letters written by the chief minister, including the state government’s requests and a resolution by the Assembly,” said a protester taking part in the rally.

Another agitator declared that the protests will not stop until the steel plant is continued in the public sector.

“Visakhapatnam is the birthplace of protest movements and we are ready to bend the necks of the central government,” he warned.

Similarly, another protester criticized that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is following privatization policies and resorting to selling away several government companies.

Admonishing the PM to take back his privatization plans, he reminded that many farmers sacrificed their land for the steel plant.

Hundreds of protesters rode their motorcycles as part of the protest rally in the port city.

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Andhra CM requests Centre to stop Vizag steel plant sale

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy met Union Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the second day of his Delhi tour on Friday and requested him to stop the sale of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).

Reddy appealed to Pradhan to consider the alternatives suggested by the state government earlier to revive the steel plant.

“Thirty two people have laid down their lives to set up the plant in Visakhapatnam where nearly 20,000 people are employed and thousands more are having indirect employment,” he said, emphasising the importance of the steel plant to the southern state.

According to Jagan Mohan Reddy, the VSP performed well between 2002 and 2015 raking in good profits but went through a rough patch after taking loans to expand, compounded by a slump in the international market.

“The organisation fell into debt with increasing operational costs and lack of own mines,” he said, highlighting that the plant is currently buying iron ore from NMDC Bailadila mines at a market price of Rs 5,260 per metric tonne (MT) of steel.

The Chief Minister said many of its competitors have captive mines for more than 60 per cent of their requirement and buy only the rest from NMDC while Steel Authority Of India Limited (SAIL) has its own captive mines with reserves of iron ore sufficient for another 200 years.

“This excess cost of iron ore has cost implications of more than Rs 3,472 crore for the plant and it is essential to have an allotment of captive mines in order to overcome the cost disadvantage,” said Reddy asking for the allotment of captive mines in Odisha which will help in reviving VSP.

The VSP is burdened with a debt of Rs 22,000 crore which is being repaid at a high interest rate of 14 per cent, prompting Reddy to suggest converting these loans into equity and listing the entity on the stock exchange.

Reddy said that these steps and monetising VSP’s 19,700 acre of land during this crisis would help in saving the steel plant.

The Chief Minister told Dharmendra Pradhan that the steel plant did yeoman service during the second wave of coronavirus by supplying more than 7,000 MT of oxygen, saving precious lives.

Similarly, he asked for reducing the viability gap funding (VGF) of Rs 975 crore per year from the state for the Kakinada Petro Complex promised as part of united Andhra Pradesh bifurcation.

Reddy said the detailed project reports (DPR) have been prepared for the special economic zone project by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and GAIL for the petro complex of 1 million metric ton at a cost of Rs 32,900 crore.

He informed Pradhan that members for the working group on behalf of the state government for the project have already been nominated and asked the Centre to issue immediate directions to start the project.

Reacting to the Chief Minister’s requests, Pradhan said the petro complex will definitely be set up in Andhra Pradesh.

He told Reddy that a meeting will be scheduled next week with the Chief Secretary and other petroleum department officials to finalise the procedures.

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AP Assembly passes resolution against privatisation of VSP

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The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution opposing the moves of Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre to privatise Vizag Steel Plant (VSP).

AP industries minister Mekapati Gautham Reddy moved the resolution in the House.

The House approved the resolution unanimously through a voice vote demanding the Centre to withdraw its plans to privatise VSP.

Gautham Reddy told House that Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to stop privatisation of VSP. He said Jagan had proposed five alternatives to bring VSP back into profits in his letter to the PM.

The AP Assembly demanded the Centre grant captive mines to VSP to tide over the losses.

Gautham Reddy said that the Centre should not view VSP like any other company but view it as a symbol of ‘pride and self-respect’ of Telugu people. He said VSP was set up by the Centre on the slogan of “Visakha Ukku-Andhrula Hakku’.

He said Andhra people are emotionally attached to VSP and Centre should consider this issue seriously and withdraw its plans to privatise VSP.

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Chiru’s sensational tweet against VSP privatisation!

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Megastar Chiranjeevi has made a sensational tweet on Thursday (today) against the Centre’s attempts to private the Vizag Steel Plant (VSP).

Chiranjeevi termed VSP as the ‘lifeline’ for Covid patients across India by producing Oxygen and questioned the rationale behind the Centre’s attempts to privatise VSP.

Chiranjeevi said at a time when entire India is facing a severe oxygen crisis, the VSP has emerged as a lifeline by producing and supplying required oxygen to States across the country.

Chiranjeevi tweeted, “Corona patients across the country are suffering a lot due to shortage of oxygen. A special train reached Vizag Steel Plant today. It transported 150 tonnes of oxygen to Maharashtra. VSP produces nearly 100 tonnes of oxygen per day. It is saving the lives of lakhs of corona patients by supplying oxygen at a time when the entire country is facing oxygen shortage. How far is it justified to private such VSP saying that it is in losses? Please think over this seriously.”

Chiranjeevi’s tweet has gone viral on social media platforms. Netizens are appreciating Chiranjeevi for enlightening not only Centre but also people on the importance of VSP saying that majority of the people too are unaware that VSP produces oxygen and majority think that VSP produces only steel.

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JD too begins legal war against Jagan regime

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With the Jagan regime ignoring and suppressing all forms of protests, the main Opposition TDP has long chosen to fight its battles in the courts. The ruling YCP leaders have expressed their frustration several times on this. Even the BJP and the Jana Sena have filed petitions in the courts on the 3 Capitals and other issues. Now, even the CBI ex Joint Director Lakshmi Narayana has chosen the legal path to take on the Jaganmohan Reddy Government.

The retired IPS officer used to express his dissenting voice on many issues openly in the past. But now, he has right away filed his petition in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh challenging the decision to privatise the multi-crore Visakha Steel Plant. He filed a public interest litigation (PIL), saying that the privatisation should be stopped considering the huge role being played by the VSP in socio-economic life of the region.

Mr. Lakshmi Narayana has already written a letter to the Central Government expressing his objection. The Steel Plant is a highly modernised one and it has contributed Rs. 43,700 Cr taxes to the Government. He said that the VSP sent 3,200 tonnes of steel for making Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat.
JD suggested that the Centre may take away a few thousands of acres and develop new industries in that. He has indirectly opposed CM Jagan Reddy’s suggestion to sell VSP land to overcome its losses and debts. Instead, JD suggested that the VSP properties elsewhere in the country may be sold.

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Rohith calls VSP sale an attack on self-respect of Andhras

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Actor Nara Rohith has given a clarion call to all sections of people to rally together to make ‘Save Steel Plant’ agitation a success. He called for a united struggle to protect the Visakha Steel Plant as it is a symbol of self-respect for the people of Andhra Pradesh. The people’s agitation should pave the way for a golden future for the State.

Rohith said that the Vizag Steel Plant was a matter of pride for two generations. The inspiration from the agitation would lay the road for future progress. The Steel Plant was like a caring mother who was creating livelihoods by providing jobs for both the present and future generations of Andhra people.

Stating that the Steel Plant was a symbol of ‘Telugodi’ pride, Mr. Rohith thanked the workers’ associations for making him a part of their relentless agitation. ‘My support will always be there for the Steel Plant agitation. It is not my nature to turn my back when the people face a problem. I will stand by the fellow Andhra citizen in his hour of trouble.”

Rohith termed the privatisation move as an attack launched on the self-respect of the Andhras as a whole. At such a time, all Andhras should wake up and fight with courage for carving out a new future. It was high time that the fruits of sacrifices made by the Andhras in the past should not be allowed to fall into the hands of others.

Rohith asserted that a determined agitation was the need of the hour in order to prevent Telugu self-respect from turning into a farce.

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Why Ganta targetting Pawan on Steel Plant agitation?

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The battle for political supremacy in Visakhapatnam has intensified manifold after the Steel Plant agitation picked up momentum. The Kapu community vote bank plays a critical role in deciding the fortunes of the contestants. This was why Pawan Kalyan contested from Gajuwaka in 2019.

Now, relatively inactive role played by Pawan in the agitation has come in for criticism. Even Ganta Srinivas Rao, who was very close to the Chiranjeevi and Pawan families, has now started putting pressure on Jana Senani. Ganta has now appealed to Pawan to take an active and direct role in the Visakha Steel Plant agitation.

Moreover, Ganta has given another embarrassing challenge to Senani. He has appealed to all parties including Jana Sena to rally together and put up a joint candidate in the Tirupati bypoll on behalf of the Steel Plant agitation. Pawan has already announced his support to the BJP candidate. There’s also alliance dharma that is binding Pawan Kalyan to the need for supporting the BJP on almost all issues more or less unconditionally.

Apparently, Ganta is deliberately pushing Pawan into a tight spot. Thereby, the TDP MLA is trying to increase his grip on the Kapu and youth vote banks in the port city.

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Jagan seeks early appointment with PM to salvage Vizag steel plant

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Following Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman vowing to 100 percent privatize the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an appointment to explain and convince him to stall the sale process.

“I request you to kindly give me an appointment to explain all the options as narrated above, to revive and put RINL, Visakhapatnam back on track,” wrote Reddy.

He offered to bring an all-party delegation including the representatives of trade unions to represent their concerns directly to Modi.

Panicked by Sitharaman’s categorical clarification in the Parliament on Monday, the CM sought Modi’s early appointment and reminded his letter a month ago.

Reddy recalled the suggestions he doled out to the PM and also the Union Minister of Steel to revive the steel plant and make it strong financially.

“In the meantime, Sitharaman in her reply in Lok Sabha on Monday stated that the Government of India would go ahead with the plan of 100 percent disinvestment is a matter of great concern for the people of AP, employees of RINL and other stakeholders,” lamented the chief minister.

He reiterated that 32 people sacrificed their lives after prolonged protests to procure the steel plant which performed well between 2002 to 2015, earning profits with positive net worth.

Reddy again requested Modi to consider the following measures for the revival of the steel plant: continuing operations to achieve a turnaround, allotting captive iron ore mines to reduce input costs, financial restructuring and monetizing the steel plant’s land to make it cash-rich.

“Short term loans along with long term loans could be converted into equity taking off repayment pressures and interest burden. The high-cost debt which is actually Rs 22,000 crore is being serviced at interest rates as high as 14 percent,” noted the CM.

He said these loans could be converted into equity by the banks to remove the interest burden totally and listing RINL, Vizag on the stock exchange, giving the banks exit option through the stock exchange route among other options.

“I assure you that the AP government will closely work with the government of India under your able leadership in making this happen and together we can revive the plant for unlocking the greater value to the society and in particular to the people of AP. I seek an early appointment in this regard,” Reddy added.

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Sajjala dares Pawan to defy Centre on VSP

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The Centre’s latest statement on Vizag Steel Plant triggered heated debates between Andhra political parties. The BJP AP leaders have kept mum on the issue as usual. But, the rival TDP and the Jana Sena parties have targetted the YCP in a big way. Both Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan have made scathing attacks on Jagan Reddy.

Amid this, CM’s advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy has issued a strong counter. This time, he advised Pawan Kalyan not to make meaningless comments against Jagan Reddy. Instead of wasting time on this, Pawan Kalyan should demand clarifications and defy the BJP Central leaders. Why is Pawan targeting the YCP regime when the Union Minister has clearly said there is no involvement of the AP Government in the privatisation plan?

Sajjala further asserted that there was no new point in Nirmala Sitaraman’s statement. The yellow media is carrying out a needless campaign. CM Jagan Reddy has already written a letter asking the Prime Minister to stall the privatisation of the Steel Plant.

Sajjala disclosed that Posco has been asked to set up their plant at Krishnapatnam. He asserted that CM Jagan knew very well how to save the Visakha Steel Plant.

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Shock to AP: Centre’s ‘key statement’ on Vizag Steel

In a shocker to Andhra Pradesh, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre today (Monday) made a crucial statement on Vizag Steel Plant in the Parliament,.

The Centre made it clear that it will not go back on the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made this statement on Monday.

Nirmala categorically stated that the Andhra Pradesh government has no shares in Vizag Steel Plant.

She said the Centre owns 100 per cent shares in Vizag Steel Plant and this 100 per cent share will be sold out to private companies.

Nirmala also clarified that the Centre had negotiations with AP government on privatisation of Vizag Steel and Centre will ask the AP goverment’s support for privatisation whenever the need arises.

Nirmala’s statement was in response to the question raised by MPs Madhavi and Satyanarayana in Parliament today.

It may be recalled that AP observed total ‘state bandh’ recently against privatisation of Vizag Steel and all parties including ruling YSRCP supported bandh.

But Nirmala’s statement in Parliament proves that Centre ignored all the agitations being held in AP against Vizag Steel privatisation.

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Andhra govt endorses statewide bandh opposing steel plant sale

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The YSR Congress Party-led Andhra Pradesh government has endorsed a statewide bandh call given by labour union leaders opposing the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) on Friday.

“The Andhra Pradesh government extends solidarity to the statewide bandh called by the workers on Friday opposing the decision to privatise VSP,” state Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah said.

The minister said that they will fight to any extent to retain the steel plant as people’s asset, which was procured after the sacrifice of 32 lives.

Recently, the state Cabinet took a decision to move a resolution in the Assembly, opposing the Central government’s plan to privatise VSP and also for putting more ‘pressure’ on the Centre.

In February, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had met the labour union leaders spearheading the fight against the privatisation of VSP and informed them that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting the available possibilities to salvage the plant.

Allocation of mines in Odisha, converting bank debt into equity, and selling steel plant’s surplus land were the three major suggestions given by Reddy to the Prime Minister, among others.

The labour unions leaders have already issued posters notifying the bandh.

Likewise, many people, including the employees of VSP and their family members, are protesting against the privatisation plan.

In a unique protest, some youth were found dancing on the road, blaring a Telugu song questioning as to what right the government had to sell the plant, also questioning the entity which will come forward to buy it.

Many protesters have also launched a hunger strike against the decision. Protesters from different departments such as the blast furnace have also launched their demonstrations.

“Private sector companies’ main motive is to earn profits but my company’s (VSP) main motive is to provide service to the public along with profits. Give one chance to RINL with captive mines, we will prove what we are,” said Gopal, one of the protesters.

Another protester alleged that the Central government is waiving the debts of scamsters and also wiping out the public sector as a whole.

Visakhapatnam North MLA and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Ganta Srinivasa Rao recently submitted his resignation to the Assembly Speaker opposing the steel plant sale plan.

All signs are pointing towards a long-term fight against the privatisation plan, adding one more indefinite strike to the two already playing out in the state.

Two indefinite protests are currently underway in Amaravati, one supporting the capital city trifurcation and the other opposing it.

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Secret deal for 3rd partner in VSP-Posco joint firm

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The Jaganmohan Reddy Government in Andhra Pradesh is facing greater criticism than even the Modi Government at the Centre on the issue of privatisation of the Visakha Steel Plant. The CM and MP Vijay Sai Reddy and all YCP leaders have asserted their party’s stand against the privatisation.

Now, many more startling aspects are coming out with respect to the agreement reached between the VSP and the Posco company. As per this, they will form a joint venture in which there is a scope for involving a third partner as well. Doubts are arising on the secret deal behind this aspect.

Moreover, reports say that it was clearly mentioned in the agreement that the Posco company would be given a minimum of 50 percent stake in the new firm. But there was no mention about the share of the Visakha Steel Plant (VSP). At the same time, it was proposed to give 1,167 acres land to the new firm to be created with Posco. There was another provision for giving additional land if needed.

Another arbitrary provision that came to light in the VSP-Posco agreement was that the VSP would have no right to decide on the values of its lands. An outside expert would be appointed to fix this.

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Vizag steel privatisation grabs political centre stage in Andhra

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The Central government’s decision to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) is going to roil Andhra Pradesh for a long time to come, both socially and politically.

The decision came as a bolt from the blue for the thousands of VSP’s employees and their families, who would have been thinking that their job was a secure government job.

Suddenly, the company famous for producing steel products such as rebars, plain rounds, wire rod coils, structural, special steel and others is thrown into uncertainty.

At a time when the state is witnessing two indefinite protests in Amravati, one supporting the trifurcation of the capital city and other opposing, Visakhapatnam or Vizag has just joined the list with its own share of demonstrations to salvage the steel plant.

Of the three capital cities planned in the southern state, two, legislative capital Amaravati and executive capital Vizag, are in the grip of protests now and nobody knows how long they will last.

For a change, all political parties are on the same page as far as opposing the privatisation bid goes. However, the principal parties — ruling YSRCP and opposition TDP — are losing no opportunity to snipe at each other on the issue.

Hundreds of steel plant employees, their family members, Left parties, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders and supporters and others are undertaking protests to stall the privatisation.

The agitators have also taken out a few massive motorcycle rallies to protect the steel plant which was sanctioned to the state after 32 lives were sacrificed decades ago.

In fact, supporters of the steel plant wasted no time in getting together to oppose the privatisation plan tooth and nail the moment it was announced in the 2021-22 budget.

“This is the worst decision taken by the Modi government. Making a 100 per cent strategic sale of the steel plant is wicked. Andhra Pradesh developed because of Visakhapatnam steel plant,” said Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Narsing Rao in one of the first agitations opposing the move.

He reminded that the city has the history of salvaging the Dredging Corporation of India Limited (DCI) by fighting with the Central government.

If the need arises, he threatened that agitators would stall the state to save the steel plant from privatisation.

CPI leader J. V. Satyanarayana Murthy said people of Visakhapatnam need not be taught how to fight, reminding that the steel plant itself was procured after a big movement.

“Though Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came as a daughter-in-law to Andhra Pradesh, she has now thrown chilli powder into her mother-in-law’s eyes. She is attempting to plunder the riches of this state or dole them out to the people the Centre likes but we will retaliate,” Murthy added.

Not only the steel plant employees, he added, people in Andhra Pradesh would repel the move to sell the steel plant.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the proposed privatisation of the Steel Plant.

In the letter, he urged Modi to reconsider disinvestment of the steel plant and suggested a few alternatives to the move, saying the steel plant stands as an icon of Telugu achievement in the people’s collective psyche.

“The people of my state rallied for the VSP in which 32 people have laid down their lives. On April 17, 1970, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had announced the Government of India’s decision to establish a steel plant at Visakhapatnam culminating the decade-long public agitation “Visakha Ukku-Andhrula Hakku” in the undivided AP,” the CM added.

He said the plant registered good performance between 2002 to 2015, earning profits with positive net worth, which pragmatically turned-around after being reported to the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) as a sick company earlier.

A couple of days after Reddy’s letter, actor-politician Pawan Kalyan flew to Delhi to meet with the Central leadership to ‘save’ the steel plant but later conceded that the public enterprise is under the purview of the Central government.

Meanwhile, TDP national general secretary Nara Lokesh upped the ante on the ruling party, alleging that YSRCP was playing a dubious role and failing to put pressure on the Central government to stop the privatisation.

“The steel plant should remain in government control, considering how Andhra people waged prolonged agitations and farmers gave away thousands of acres of their ancestral lands. The Jagan Moharn Reddy regime is playing a dubious role in the whole privatisation plan,” claimed Lokesh.

Ganta Srinivas Rao, a TDP MLA from Vizag even put in his papers protesting the steel plant sale plan while TDP supremo Nara Chandrababu Naidu went a step ahead and demanded Reddy to stop the privatisation or resign.

“Stop the sale of the steel plant or resign and go to jail or wherever you (CM) would like to go. If YSRCP continued its games of betrayal against the people’s sentiments even now, the people of the state would rise in revolt and they would not allow the ruling party leaders to move on the roads,” roared Naidu at a public meeting in the port city.

He was supposed to extend solidarity to party leader Palla Srinivas’ indefinite fast protesting the privatisation but the government forcibly ended the hunger strike.

To calm the tempers of the agitators, Reddy met with the labour union leaders on Wednesday and informed them of the three suggestions he gave to Modi to salvage the plant.

Allocation of mines in Odisha, converting bank debt into equity, and selling steel plant’s surplus land were the three major suggestions given by Reddy to the Prime Minister, among others.

Already, some people have started targeting the CM for suggesting selling only surplus land, attributing several apprehensions.

It remains to be seen if Modi would heed to any of those suggestions or just go ahead privatising the plant.

According to Reddy, the plant has about Rs 22,000 crore debt, out of which up to Rs 11,000 crore was availed as working capital debt, including some debts availed at hefty interest rate of up to 14 per cent.

One thing is definitely clear, the Central government’s privatisation move has thrown a spanner into Reddy’s plans of moving the executive capital to Vizag, sources said he was keen on doing it in March.

Will the steel plant protests, participated by all the opposition parties be of any hindrance to the capital move plans? We have to wait and watch.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not do any favour for itself by the privatisation move as capturing power in the southern state is one of its unfulfilled dreams.

Depriving the special category status, railway zone and other concessions to the state, which suffered irreparably during the politically opportunistic bifurcation will not endear BJP to the Telugus, despite Sunil V. Deodhar, BJP’s state co-in-charge staying put in the state.

Meanwhile, the Central government hasn’t responded to Reddy’s suggestions or the protests in faraway Vizag, even as it is busy dealing with the mighty farmers protests in near Delhi.

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Naidu writes to PM, steps up pressure on Jagan

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Allegations and counter allegations are going on between the YCP and the TDP leaders on the Vizag Steel Plant agitation. CM Jagan Reddy has written a letter to PM to cancel the VSP sale a few days ago. The TDP questioned whether that letter has reached the PM or not and whether the CMO has sent that letter to the PMO or not. Then, the YCP leaders started questioning why TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is not bringing pressure on the PM.

As a counter to the ruling party challenges, the TDP boss dashed off a letter to Modi, urging him to stop privatisation of the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) commonly known as the Visakha Steel Plant (VSP). He stressed the need for protection of the steel plant as it was a matter of pride for the State and it remained a lifeline for the North Andhra region. He recalled how the Andhras made huge sacrifices and took out prolonged agitation for achieving the Visakha Steel Plant. It stood as a symbol of the unity of the Telugu people and an everlasting sentiment for them.

The TDP chief said that in its budget for 2021-22, the Government of India (GOI) has proposed to privatise the RINL. The Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), announced that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal to privatise RINL on January 27, 2021. Since the plant had accumulated losses to the tune of about Rs. 4,000 crore from 1991 to 2000, the same was referred to the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) by the Atal Behari Vajpayee Government. Upon the request of the then AP Government, the Government of India provided a restructuring package of Rs. 1,333 crore, which helped to turn the plant profitable.

Mr. Naidu said that the RINL Steel Plant was facing losses due to reasons such as absence of captive mines and burden of high interest rates on loans. In this backdrop, the Government of India or the Government of Andhra Pradesh may provide captive mines to the RINL Steel Plant to turn the fortunes of RINL steel plant. At current market prices, the land that the steel plant is located alone costs about Rs 1.5 Lakh to 2 Lakh Crores.

The TDP told Mr. Modi that people from more than 68 villages gave up their land for this steel plant. About 16,000 families gave up 26,500 acres of land. They were promised one job each. However, only about 8,000 families have received jobs so far. In spite of many hurdles, the steel plant was built and dedicated to the nation in 1992, also paving way for the development of Visakhapatnam city. Not only is RINL Steel Plant the pride of Visakhapatnam and Andhra Pradesh, but also the entire country.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Jagan raises Spl Status but not steel plant at PM meet

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AP Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy attended an online meeting of the Niti Ayog. It was presided over by Prime Minister Modi. The Chief Ministers of other states also took part in the meeting. Mr. Jagan Reddy made a special mention of how Andhra Pradesh suffered a serious setback because of lack of Special Status. He had scores of other problems of AP in front of the PM but not the current burning topic of the steel plant privatisation.

Mr. Jagan Reddy said the Centre itself said AP was badly hit during the bifurcation but it had not fulfilled the promise on Special Status till now. The CM had also raised the need for the Centre’s approval for the revised estimates of the Polavaram project. He sought approval for 13 medical colleges. He also told the Prime Minister that his Government has been strictly implementing many reforms as per the expectations of the Central Government.

In a very unexpected way, the Chief Minister remained silent on the steel plant issue during the PM meeting. On the other side, his party MPs were saying that they would take up protests against the VSP sale in Delhi soon.A lot of confusion is going on in the steel plant issue. There has been no clarification from the PM or Amit Shah or any Union Minister officially whether the Centre has withdrawn the VSP sale or not. However, BJP AP leaders and AP CM have said there is no decision taken on the privatisation so far.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Will Vizag people trust Vijay Sai ‘Padayatra’?

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The YCP came to power on the strength of the State-wide Padayatra of Jaganmohan Reddy. He drew inspiration from his father YSR whose Padayatra brought Congress to power in 2004. Many YCP leaders have held Padayatras in the footsteps of the YSR family members. Now, Vijay Sai Reddy began his Padayatra in Vizag and asserted his commitment to saving the steel plant from privatisation.

Jagan Reddy made a lot of promises during his Padayatra but after coming to power, he was not being able to fulfill most of them. Vijay Sai Reddy made controversial statements in the beginning itself and he indicated broadly that the VSP privatisation was unstoppable. At one stage, he said he would get the Prime Minister’s appointment for the agitators but would not guarantee a positive outcome.

On his part, CM Jagan said that he wanted to bring the Posco company to Kadapa or Krishnapatnam or Bhavanapadu but Vizag did not come up in the list. At the same time, he suggested the sale of 7,000 acres of land to VSP to solve its financial problems.

As it is, Vijay Sai has been known for his close relations with Modi-Shah at the Centre. Everytime the YCP is in a crisis, the MP would be seen knocking on the doors of the Union Ministers to get relief. This time, Vijay Sai is preferring Padayatra to lobbying in Delhi. The question is whether the people will believe in the Padayatras of political leaders any longer if they go on adopting double standards.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

GVL ultimate logic on steel plant agitation

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BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao is no doubt an expert crisis manager. But the problem is his logic is missing the people of Andhra Pradesh too often. After a long time, he has now come to the fore once again to make his presence felt in AP politics. This time, he says that all the other parties in the State are conspiring to corner the BJP on the issue of the agitation against the privatisation of the Visakha Steel Plant.

GVL has asked why the other parties are running an agitation when the Central Government has not taken a decision to privatise the steel plant. His latest argument is that in the name of the agitation for the protection of the VSP, the rival parties are making needless allegations against the BJP.

One more interesting comment made by GVL is that the VSP stir is also aimed at diverting the attention of the AP people from more important issues. For example, the pastors are bringing hundreds of crores to continue the religious conversions. The Ministers and the MLAs are resorting to constitutional violations. Only to hide their failures, this steel plant agitation is brought to the fore. GVL conveniently ignored the Union Minister’s statement in the Rajya Sabha itself on the VSP privatisation in reply to a question raised by Vijay Sai Reddy.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Veerraju gives ultimate twist to steel plant agitation

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After three days of his Delhi visit, BJP AP President Somu Veerraju has made a stunning and surprising announcement today. He said that the Central Government has not made any sort of statement on the Visakha Steel Plant. Veerraju further said that it was only Chandrababu Naidu and the communists who were raising a hue and cry. The whole steel plant agitation was their creation only to embarrass and counter the BJP rise in Andhra Pradesh.

By what Veerraju has said, the overall agitation against the privatisation of the VSP has become irrelevant. Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s meetings with the agitating workers at the Vizag airport have also become irrelevant. Obviously, Veerraju has also preferred to ignore the MoU that was signed with the South Korean Posco company as well.

Interestingly, there are no reports from the BJP side so far about Veerrajju and his party AP leaders efforts to meet Amit Shah. There was also no clarity on the response of the other Union Ministers to the BJP AP team’s representations for the merger of the Vizag Steel Plant with SAIL or some other PSU.

At the same time, Veerraju’s latest comments have given rise to doubts whether the Modi-Shah regime was silently washing its hands of the steel plant controversy.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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