The protests against the Central Government’s decision to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) will enter its 200th day on 30 August 2021. To mark that day, VSP employees and union members are planning a 10 km padayatra from Aganampudi to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited – Heavy Plates and Vessels Plant (BHEL-HPVP) Admin Building. Along with the padayatra, a human chain of 10,000 people will also be formed in the city.
The decision to organise a padayatra and form a human chain, on the 200th day of the protests against VSP privatisation, was announced by the President of the recognised union of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), J Ayodhya Ram. He was meeting the VSP employees in Kurmannapalem, where the strike is currently taking place.
Earlier, similar efforts in protesting VSP privatisation were made in March 2021. A human chain was formed at Maddilapalem Junction by various political parties during the state-wide bandh observed in Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) General Secretary and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) V Vijayasai Reddy, Agriculture Minister K Kannababu and Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao, and Visakhapatnam MP MVV Satyanarayana participated in the protest.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 27 January, gave its in-principle approval for 100 percent disinvestment of the Government’s stake in RINL. The disinvestment also extends to RINL’s stake in its subsidiaries/joint ventures through strategic disinvestment by way of privatisation. The decision has drawn a lot of opposition from the locals in Vizag as well as the workers at the steel plant.
It is to be noted that in a recent update on VSP privatisation, Indian steel giant, Tata Steel has expressed its interest in the acquisition of RINL. Now, a Gujarat-based company, AMNS (ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel) India is reportedly planning to bid for this steel manufacturing company based in Visakhapatnam.