YSRCP has walked out of Rajya Sabha opposing the Centre’s move to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).
Speaking during discussion on the Mines and Minerals (Development Regulation, Amendment Bill, here on Monday Parliamentary Party Leader V Vijayasai Reddy said that the party will not support the central government’s decision to privatize the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, which has been a Navratna company for decades with thousands of workers and employees. He slammed the central government’s policy of privatizing the loss-making public sector enterprises instead of formulating necessary plans and measures for restructuring them. He stated that the public sector companies work towards fulfilling the social responsibility placed on them providing employment opportunities to millions of people, unlike private sector companies which run with the sole aim of making a profit.
The bill laid by the central government clearly stated that it gets the right to auction the mines if the state government is unable to conduct the auction within the stipulated time. In regard to this, Vijayasai Reddy stated that this is contrary to the federal spirit dictated by the Constitution of India. Further, he raised that going by the fixed time limit, it has been seven years since the bifurcation of the state, and the Central Government has failed miserably in implementing the basic promises made in the Act.
Taking an example of special railway zone to Visakhapatnam, he stated that it has not been materialized for seven years. He questioned whether the central government would authenticate it if the state government completes the process of setting up the railway zone as they had failed to implement it within the stipulated time. Pointing to Article 7 of the Constitution, he said that there is a clear separation of powers between the Center and the States. He lamented that the central government had brought in the bill violating the federal spirit and the rights of the State government.
The MP further suggested that the left out mines should be handed over to private companies only after the allocation of mines to the public sector was completed, as the bill includes provisions to allow the allocation of mines to private companies for commercial purposes. Citing that the central government is proposing to get a share in the mining revenue instead of the existing method of paying royalty amount, he said that the proposal results in the loss of 50 mining blocks which will eventually fall into the hands of private companies. Although the government is prepared to invest Rs 50,000 crore for the development of these blocks, he stated that there had been a bitter experience where Coal India Ltd is facing severe financial pressure due to non-receipt of Rs 17,000 crore due from power plants. He appealed the house to protect the future of thousands of employees working in the Visakha Steel Plant and other such government companies. Opposing the bill that is encouraging the privatisation of public institutions, YSRCP MPs trooped out of the House.