AP: Vizag steel plant workers block roads

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Visakhapatnam: Thousands stormed the Vizag steel administration building in the steel plant on Tuesday to protest Union Minister for Finance Nirmala Sitaraman’s statement that the Centre would divest its stake in Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).

The Finance Minister was replying to a question by Visakhapatnam MP MVV Satyanarayana in the Parliament on Monday which immediately drew protests by employees, trade union leaders and displaced persons of the plant near the plant at Kurmannapalem by Monday evening. They stopped traffic on the national highway no. 16 at Kurmannapalem and Vadlapudi in the steel plant area and kept night-long vigil on the roads.

On Tuesday their numbers swelled with the employees, their family members, trade union leaders along with activists rushed to the administrative building and prevented any official or staff from entering it.

It is said that the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd.-Vizag steel plant chairman and managing director P.K. Rath as well as Director (Personnel) KC Das, who hailed from Odisha to which the Union Minister for Steel Dharmendra Pradhan also belonged, had left for Delhi on Monday evening itself. When another official, Director (Finance) Venugopal arrived near the building in his car, they stopped on Tuesday morning.

With protests against privatisation of Vizag steel plant rocking the state, Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Tuesday wrote again to Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a fervent appeal not to privatise the steel plant. In the letter, he also sought an appointment with the Prime Minister, saying that he would meet him along with an all-party delegation.

Rajya Sabha member Vijay Sai Reddy, addressing a media conference here on Tuesday evening, said that the Centre should respect the sentiments of the Telugu people and save the Vizag steel plant which was established after long struggles which saw as many as 32 persons sacrificed their lives. Replying to questions, he said that the YSRCP was firm on its demand for special category status to the state and now was fighting to save the steel plant.


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