Paving the way for privatisation of the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), the Cabinet had approved the implementation of strategic disinvestment in the Vizag Steel Plant. Considered to be one of the crown jewels of North Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is spread over 33,000 acres of land, Steel Plant township is home to over 8000 of its employees and their families. With lush green foliage, places of worship respecting every religion, and community centres, the township reflects unity in diversity.
With its inauguration in 1971 on January 20th by late Indhira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, the Vizag steel plant is the first shore plant in the country. In its course of expansion, it collaborated with the former USSR and Germany, making it one of the most advanced manufacturing industries of the country. With the formation of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) in 1982, Vizag Steel Plant separated from Steel Authorities of India (SAIL), adopting RINL as its corporate entity, which comes under the Ministry of Steel as a Navratna Public Sector Entity.
When Indira Gandhi initially dismissed the proposal of setting up the plant in Visakhapatnam in 1966, natives of Andhra Pradesh took the issue to the streets by rallying and protesting in peace with politicians and freedom fighters like Tenneti Vishwanandhan, Gouthu Latchannna, Nallamalla Giriprasad Rao among others. At one such rally was when things took a violent turn with the police force initiating open fire on the protestors, killing over a dozen people. Another prominent name in this agitation would be of T Amrutha Rao, who observed a hunger strike for the said cause. Considering the struggles and sacrifices of citizens of Andhra Pradesh, the journey of setting up the Vizag Steel Plant has many emotions tied to it.
Now, with the centre approving privatisation of the Vizag Steel Plant, the city has been witnessing a similar trend of protests and agitation. Employees and officials of the plant have set out on rallies, pushing the centre to consider reversing its decision. Joining the employees, politicians as well took action on the issue. Earlier on Saturday, Visakhapatnam North MLA Ganta Srinivas Rao has submitted his resignation in light of the said decision. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy has also reached out to the Central government urging to further evaluate the accord.