Hyderabad: Visakhapatnam Steel Plant staff launch massive protest against privatisation on 5th February 2021 (Photo: snapsindia/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Visakhapatnam, March 4 : The YSR Congress Party-led Andhra Pradesh government has endorsed a statewide bandh call given by labour union leaders opposing the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) on Friday.

"The Andhra Pradesh government extends solidarity to the statewide bandh called by the workers on Friday opposing the decision to privatise VSP," state Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah said.

The minister said that they will fight to any extent to retain the steel plant as people's asset, which was procured after the sacrifice of 32 lives.

Recently, the state Cabinet took a decision to move a resolution in the Assembly, opposing the Central government's plan to privatise VSP and also for putting more 'pressure' on the Centre.

In February, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had met the labour union leaders spearheading the fight against the privatisation of VSP and informed them that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting the available possibilities to salvage the plant.

Allocation of mines in Odisha, converting bank debt into equity, and selling steel plant's surplus land were the three major suggestions given by Reddy to the Prime Minister, among others.

The labour unions leaders have already issued posters notifying the bandh.

Likewise, many people, including the employees of VSP and their family members, are protesting against the privatisation plan.

In a unique protest, some youth were found dancing on the road, blaring a Telugu song questioning as to what right the government had to sell the plant, also questioning the entity which will come forward to buy it.

Many protesters have also launched a hunger strike against the decision. Protesters from different departments such as the blast furnace have also launched their demonstrations.

"Private sector companies' main motive is to earn profits but my company's (VSP) main motive is to provide service to the public along with profits. Give one chance to RINL with captive mines, we will prove what we are," said Gopal, one of the protesters.

Another protester alleged that the Central government is waiving the debts of scamsters and also wiping out the public sector as a whole.

Visakhapatnam North MLA and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Ganta Srinivasa Rao recently submitted his resignation to the Assembly Speaker opposing the steel plant sale plan.

All signs are pointing towards a long-term fight against the privatisation plan, adding one more indefinite strike to the two already playing out in the state.

Two indefinite protests are currently underway in Amaravati, one supporting the capital city trifurcation and the other opposing it.

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