Visakhapatnam, over the past few weeks, has been witnessing protests take the stage against the Centre’s move to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. With several political parties joining the protests, the resentment against the move has been growing stronger. A few state leaders have even met the concerned Union Ministers to voice the public interests, albeit to little effect. Clearing the air, the Centre, on Monday, once again reconfirmed that 100% of investments shall be withdrawn from Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, indicating its inclination towards privatisation.
Responding to the queries raised by YSRCP MPs MVV Satyanarayana (Visakhapatnam MP) and Goddeti Madhavi (Araku MP) in the Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that the State Government does not have any equity in the RINL. The reply read that the State Government is consulted in specific matters as and when required and their support is solicited in matters that require their intervention.
She also said that the strategic disinvestment of the Government of India’s equity will lead to an infusion of capital for optimum utilisation, expansion of capacity, infusion of technology, and better management practices. This will result in higher production and productivity and expansion of direct and indirect employment opportunities, the reply stated.
The reply comes as a blow to those who have been fighting against the proposed privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. It may be noted that even a state-wide bandh was observed recently as a mark of protest against the disinvestment of the plant.
On 27 January, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave in-principle approval for 100% strategic disinvestment of the Government of India shareholding in RINL along with management control by way of privatisation.