Intensifying the agitation against the privatisation of the Vizag Steel Plant, the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, a Joint Action Committee of all trade unions and employees, called for a nationwide bandh on 26 March, 2021. All the trade and transport unions, youth unions, and other groups have been requested to pledge their full support to the Bharat Bandh.
On Wednesday, it was announced that prior to the Bharat Bandh, the committee will stage a series of protests at Vizag Steel Plant to support the cause. Addressing the media, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) Chairman, M Jaggu Naidu, shed light on the other activities planned by the trade unions in the forthcoming days. Mr Naidu informed that ‘Chalo Steel Plant’, a walkathon at Trishna Grounds, will begin at 4 PM on 20 March.
Continuing the agitation, the trade unions will also stage zonal-level protests, in Visakhapatnam district, on 23 and 24 March. Later, on 30 March, the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee members will go on a hunger relay strike at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue near the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation office.
Speaking on the occasion, the JAC Chairman said that collective efforts of local representatives, and the public, will play a crucial role in steering the movement forward. Reminiscing the sacrifices made, Mr Naidu said, “As many as 32 persons had lost their lives in the struggle. Over 60 MLAs had offered resignation and hundreds of acres were handed over by the people here to set up the plant.” He warned that they would not tolerate, if the Centre goes ahead with the plan to privatise the VSP.
It may be recalled that on 8 March, Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, stated that the Centre has decided to divest its stake in the plant. In light of the statement, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The letter sought an appointment with the Prime Minister to present alternatives to the Central Government’s decision of 100 percent disinvestment of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) upon VSP’s privatisation.