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VSP workers on hunger strike to mark 250 days of anti-divestment protests

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As the protest against the central government’s move to divest its stake in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant entered the 250th day on Tuesday, the plant protection committee representatives and trade union leaders embarked on a 25-hour hunger strike.

Around 250 persons gathered at the plant’s Kummanapalem Gate around 8 a.m. to participate in the strike. The move is aimed at communicating the employees’ sentiments to the union government.

The Centre’s move has been opposed by employees as well as political parties in the state. The state government had passed a resolution opposing it in the Assembly.

The anti-privatisation protest by employees and trade unions was launched in February, and has been continuing ever since. Representatives of the steel plant protection committee have stated that they will continue the agitation till the government withdraws the privatisation plans.

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Pawan Kalyan’s party to step up agitation against Vizag Steel Plant privatisation

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The Jana Sena Party (JSP) has warned that it would soon get into action mode in the agitation against the disinvestment of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Stating that the time is right for taking the next step in the agitation, JSP leader Nadendla Manohar said on Tuesday that party president Pawan Kalyan will meet with workers’ unions next month.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Manohar said that Pawan Kalyan has conveyed the party’s stand on the issue to the BJP leadership in Delhi. The JSP is optimistic that its ally will act positively to secure the employment opportunities of the people of the state.

The Central government’s moves on disinvestment in the Visakhpatnam Steel Plant have been met with opposition from all quarters in Andhra Pradesh, with the employees continuously holding protests on the issue.

Pointing out that the JSP has been patient for so long, Manohar said the party will now get into direct action mode.

Taking a dig at Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for his alleged non-confrontational approach with the Central government over the issue, Manohar said that JSP leader Kalyan has no need to compromise.

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This small little change may pave way for VSP privatisation

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One insignificant bit of single column news in newspapers that most readers tend to overlook is now creating quite a sensation in the Vizag Steel Plant circle. In what is being seen as a very firm move to privatise the VSP, the Central Government has appointed Atul Bhat as the chairman and the managing director of the plant. Bhat is a known hand in mergers, acquisition and share-offloading and this is being touted as the most decisive move to privatise the plant.

Atul Bhat replaces RK Rath, whose tenure expired recently, Atul Bhat would be in the position of the CMD till November 30, 2024. Bhat is known for preparing the Strategic Management Plan 2025 and played a key role in the merger and takeover of several firms. Many experts in the field say that Modi has appointed the right man for the right job and that Bhat would complete the total privatisation of the VSP. He is known to accomplish the task given to him come what may.

Those in the know say that Bhat began his career with the tata Steels and then moved to the Mittals in UK and the general manager. He played a key role in the mergers of the Mittals in Iran and several other countries. Now as the CMD of the Vizag, he is expected to complete the task given to him. Sources say that he would use all the tricks in the trade to privatise the unit.

Meanwhile, the agitation against the privatisation too appears to have lost its steam. The political parties are now gradually moving away from the agitation. It is now left for the employees unions alone to fight it out. But sources say that several employees on the verge of retirement are already negotiating with the management behind the curtains to get the best possible package for themselves. Given all these, Bhat may have a smooth sailing, according to the sources.

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Ganta, who ‘resigned’ on steel plant issue, is silent as privatisation moves pick pace

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Questions are being raised in Visakhapatnam over the continued absence of Ganta Srinivasa Rao from the Vizag Steel Plant agitation. The Vizag North MLA had submitted his resignation from the legislative assembly on the issue of the privatization of the steel plant. But, after submitting the resignation, which is yet to be accepted, he remained inaccessible.

On February 11 this year, he sent his resignation addressed to the speaker of the assembly while participating in the protest organized at Kurmannapalem in Vizag by the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Samiti. He also assured to participate in all the agitations organized by the Samiti. However, after submitting the resignation, which still remains unaccepted, he has not showed up at any agitation. He has largely kept to himself.

With the Central Government speeding up the process of privatization, there is a fresh agitation. The employees have been organizing rallies and protests. There are dharnas on a regular basis. The employees unions have recently toured Delhi, met the ministers and staged a two-day dharna at the Jantar Mantar. Ganta, who promised to be part of any agitation, did not join the protests. This has raised quite a few eyebrows about his real intentions. The union leaders feel that the resignation was a mere drama.

Sources said that Ganta had desperately tried to join the YSRCP, but Rajya Sabha MP Vijaysai Reddy has effectively scuttled his attempts. To bring pressure on the YSRCP, he announced his resignation. However, the YSRCP largely ignored him. Even the TDP did not make any effort to dissuade him from going to the YSRCP. Thus, he was neither here nor there. Since then, Ganta has kept to himself and is not being seen in public. Even Vizag Steel Plant issue seem to be failing to stir him into action.

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Nirmala’s visit to Vizag heats up VSP anti-privatisation agitation!

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Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Vizag today (Friday) has heated up agitation against Centre’s decision to privatise Vizag Steel Plant (VSP).

Nirmala arrived in Vizag today by flight as part of her three-day tour to North Andhra districts.

The news of Nirmala’s arrival at Vizag airport spread like wild fire.

Hundreds of employees of VSP rushed to Vizag airport to protest against Centre’s decision to privatise VSP and also to submit a representation to Nirmala Sitharaman seeking reversal of VSP privatisation decision.

Heavy police force reached Vizag airport to prevent any untoward incidents.

Police obstructed activists from entering Vizag airport premises. This led to a tussle between police and activists.

The police detained 150 activists who tried to breach police cordon and enter Vizag airport premises.

The activists raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman.

The activists gave a call to all political parties and people in North Andhra districts to obstruct Nirmala Sitharaman wherever she tours.

The activists threatened that they too will obstruct Nirmala Sitharaman from touring North Andhra districts without responding to their demand to withdraw privatisation plans of VSP.

The agitation against VSP privatisation gathered steam with the visit of Nirmala Sitharaman to North Andhra districts.

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Protests against Vizag steel plant privatisation in Delhi now

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With the Centre virtually ruling out any relook at the decision to privatise the Vizag Steel Plant (VSP), opponents of the move now took their protests to the heart of the national capital.

On Monday, a large number of VSP employees, workers, and representatives of trade unions protested at the Jantar Mantar.

“We have been protesting since many days but the Central government has become obstinate… even filing affidavits in the court, hinting that it will not go back,” said a protester at Jantar Mantar.

He said thousands of people are dependent on the steel plant which the Centre is planning to sell.

Protesters vowed that they will not let the Centre sell the VSP and will take support from all sections of people.

Coming to Delhi from the Andhra Pradesh port city, Visakhapatnam Deputy Mayor Jiyyani Sridhar noted that nearly 30 people sacrificed their lives for achieving the steel plant.

He said the state’s ruling YSRCP is striving to save the steel plant.

“After today’s protest at Jantar Mantar, we will demonstrate in front of Andhra Bhavan on Tuesday. YSRCP will fight hard in support of all these people for the steel plant,” he said.

A representative from the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) said they want to safeguard all the public sector units.

“We want to safeguard all PSUs in national interest. We think by privatising all national assets, the government is trying to take regressive steps which will be harmful for the sovereign and self-reliant economy of our country,” she said.

The AITUC representative demanded the government to rollback its privatisation plan and save the VSP, which is the pride of the Telugu people.

She said the central trade unions are extending their support for the cause of the steel plant.

“I extend support to this cause which is so dear not only to Andhra people but it is dear to the national working class,” she added.

YSRCP Rajya Sabha member V. Vijayasai Reddy said all the MPs from the state’s ruling party joined the protesters in Delhi, holding up placards protesting the steel plant sale.

“I assured that we will participate in any protest they take up to save the steel plant,” he said.

The YSRCP leader reiterated that their leader and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is completely against the privatisation plan.

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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.

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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