Says steel plant a pride of AP and lifeline of North Andhra
AMARAVATI: TDP National President and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday made a fervent appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop privatisation of the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) commonly known as the Visakha Steel Plant (VSP).
In a letter sent to the PM here, Mr. Naidu stressed the need for protection of the steel plant as it was a matter of pride for the State and 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 and 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. But the fact was that the RINL Visakha Steel Plant was achieved through a long drawn struggle by the Telugu people.
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu drew the attention of the PM to the fact that in the 1960s, the Andhras rose above region, religion and caste to unite for the cause under the slogan Visakha Ukku-Andhrula Hakku (Vizag steel is the right of Andhraites). The then Prime Minister of India had announced the decision to build Visakha Steel Plant in 1970. In 1971, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant was founded under the corporate entity of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). Later, the VSP was brought under the corporate entity of RINL in 1982. This is the only steel plant in India located on seashore that makes it unique in many ways.
Mr. Naidu said that 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 chief said that the RINL Steel Plant is also the lifeline of North Andhra, and provides livelihood to lakhs of people, directly and indirectly. It is therefore all the more essential to protect and nurture the RINL Steel Plant to make it a win-win for all the stakeholders.
Mr. Naidu said that it was the demand raised by a people’s movement in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh that led to establishment of the steel plant at Visakhapatnam. Students from Andhra Medical College, Andhra University, Mrs. AVN College, and many other colleges across Guntur, Krishna, Warangal, West Godavari and East Godavari districts had participated in the movement. The movement was led by stalwarts such as Tenneti Viswanadham, Sardar Gouthu Latchanna, Puchalapalli Sundarayya, Chandra Rajeswara Rao, Nallamalla Giriprasad Rao, T. Nagi Reddy, and Vavilala Gopalakrishnaiah.
The TDP chief recalled that the pioneer of the movement for the steel plant was Amruta Rao, hailing from Dalit community, from Guntur, whose indefinite fast inspired the Telugu people across the united state to join the struggle. The foundations of Visakhapatnam steel plant were soaked in the blood of Telugu people, twelve of whom were killed in police firing near the Old Post Office in Visakhapatnam.Stating that many sacrifices were made, Mr. Naidu said: “In other regions, 20 people had laid down their lives, including five in Vijayawada, five in Guntur, two in Vizianagaram, one each in Kakinada, Warangal, Rajahmundry, Sileru, Palasa, Jagtial and two in other locations.