Possible to revive Vizag Steel Plant, PM will take decision: Kumaraswamy

Visakhapatnam: Ruling out the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Union Heavy Industries and Steel Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday said that there is a possibility of reviving the plant and a final decision would be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He told media persons after a visit to the plant that there is a possibility of reviving the public sector undertaking.

“Who told you we are going to privatise? Why did I come here? There is no question of privatisation. Before I announce, the PM’s permission is required. I have to convince him,” said Kumaraswamy, who along with Union Minister of State for Steel B. Srinivasa Verma, visited Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), the corporate entity of VSP.

He held talks with the management, the leaders of trade unions, and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Stating that they had held threadbare discussions, the Union Minister said several suggestions were made.

“Ultimately we are going to take some decision with the higher authority,” he said.

Kumaraswamy said he was preparing a note to revive the plant and this would be presented to the Prime Minister.

“There is a possibility of reviving it. We can do it. For that we are working out,” he said.

TDP state President P. Srinivas Rao, who met Kumaraswamy, said he gave the assurance that the project would be revived and protected. He requested that the VSP’s land, which is with the Centre, be transferred to the RINL so that the company can get loans from the banks.

Allocation of iron ore mines, financial assistance of Rs 20,000 crore, and a merger with Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) were other options mooted by them.

BJP leader Vishnu Kumar Raju said Kumaraswamy sought two months for a decision on reviving the plant.

Earlier, Kumaraswamy said nobody should have fears that the steel plant will be shut down. He stated that with the support of Prime Minister Modi, the plant is operating at 100 per cent capacity.

The minister, who penned his thoughts in the visitors’ book, affirmed VSP’s contribution to the nation’s development. He noted that many people are dependent on the plant for their livelihood.

He, along with officials, went around the factory and interacted with workers to review the production activities. The ministers were accompanied by Visakhapatnam MP M. Bharat, BJP leader G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, local MLA Palla Srinivas, VSP Chairman and Managing Director Atul Bhatt and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel, Sanjay Roy and senior officials.

The Union Minister visited the plant amid the demand by the unions for its merger with the SAIL. Leaders of various employees’ unions of VSP, who have been fighting for more than 1,000 days against the proposal to privatise the steel plant, are likely to meet Kumaraswamy to seek the merger of RINL-VSP with SAIL, as apart from this, there is no other alternative.

The BJP MPs from Andhra Pradesh are also pushing for the VSP’s merger with SAIL. Last month, a delegation of BJP MPs led by the party’s state chief and former Union Minister D. Purandeswari had met Kumaraswamy and submitted a representation, requesting him to consider a takeover of RINL Vizag and Nagarnar Steel, Chhattisgarh by SAIL.

The delegation of MPs included Minister of State for Steel Srinivasa Varma.

After a report in an English daily that the NDA government had taken a U-turn on the privatisation of VSP, Purandeswari posted on X that she had hand-delivered a letter to Kumaraswamy and had been diligently monitoring the situation. “This takeover will not only expedite the national steel policy 2017 targets but also integrate and optimise resources, resulting in increased profitability and market expansion for SAIL. Additionally, the merger will yield considerable cost savings in interest rates and raw materials, contributing to the faster profitability of the RINL Vizag plant,” she said in the letter, posted on X.

–IANS

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