Social activists Medha Patkar and Aparna Sen visited the Visakha Ukku relay hunger strike camp on Saturday in Kurmannapalem, Visakhapatnam. The two activists were visiting the coastal city with the intention to put their support behind the ongoing agitation against the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP). Medha Patkar is famously known for spearheading the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a people’s movement against the construction of multiple large dams on the Narmada river.
Speaking to the media in Visakhapatnam, Medha Patkar didn’t mince her words in criticising the Union Government. “By privatisating the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Centre is killing employment at the plant, it is killing all the plant’s resources. Farmers of 68 villages in Visakhapatnam gave up their lands for this plant to be set up here. The Union Government has no right to sell this plant. But they aren’t hearing our pleas. They have already begun the transaction and can’t backtrack now.” She also praised how the opposition parties have rallied behind this cause. She urged them to come to the streets and show their support in this agitation in some or the other form.
Meanwhile, Aparna Sen talked about how the VSP protests have united all the trade unions and other organisations in the country. “It’s rare to see so many political parties and trade unions and organisations, all rallying behind a single cause. The Union Government keeps talking about an Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) but is doing the opposite of that in the case of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.”
The VSP workers have been on strike for the past 261 days, protesting against its privatisation. Earlier in August, marking 200 days of the agitation, the Visakhapatnam Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (VUPPC) had organised a 10-km padayatra from Aganampudi to BHEL. JanaSena Party (JSP) President Pawan Kalyan is also going to visit the hunger strike camp on Sunday, 31 October 2021 and address the public.