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Bandh in Visakhapatnam to oppose privatisation of Steel Plant

A shutdown is underway in this coastal city of Andhra Pradesh on Monday to protest the Centre's move to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).

Employees of steel plant are participating in the strike on a call given by the committee spearheading the movement against privatisation.

Leaders of various trade unions staged a protest at the main gate of the plant. They claimed that all 25,000 employees of the plant are participating in the strike.

Visakhapatnam bandh is part of two-day nationwide strike, called for by a joint forum of central trade unions to protest against central government policies.

Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (VUPPC) staged a protest rally at the main gate of the steel plant. They warned the Centre against going ahead with the privatisation plan. They vowed to continue the protest till the Central government takes back its decision to privatise the plant.

The leaders alleged that some central ministers were speaking out of their ignorance about the plant. They said the Modi government was working against workers and farmers.

The unions said except BJP all political parties were supporting the bandh. "Who gave the central government the right to sell the plant," asked VUPPC chairman Narasinga Rao. He said the plant was formed after people's sacrifice and they would never allow the Centre to sell it away.

As part of the bandh, activists of various Left parties and trade unions started protest demonstrations since early morning. Holding banners and flags, the protestors blocked roads at few places.

The protestors made it clear that their agitation will continue till the Centre repeals its decision on strategic sale of VSP.

VUPPC leaders said the Centre should not privatise VSP as it was achieved after several struggles.

The workers have been protesting since February 2021 after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had given its approval for 100 per cent strategic sale/privatisation of the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) along with its joint ventures and subsidiaries.

RINL is the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant also known as Vizag Steel Plant.

In July, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) decided to hire legal and transaction advisors to prepare a road map for privatization.

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