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Centre thinks twice on VSP sale

Says efforts will be made to strengthen the plant to run on its own

Published Date – 10:45 PM, Thu – 13 April 23

Centre thinks twice on VSP sale
File Photo

Hyderabad/Visakhapatnam: Rattled by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s decision to submit an Expression of Interest for the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited – Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, the Centre on Thursday began dilly-dallying over its declared plans to go for strategic disinvestment of steel plant.

In what Industries Minister KT Rama Rao described as a diversionary tactic, union Minister of State for Steel Faggan Singh Kulaste said there was no attempt on part of the union government, as of now, to go for privatization of the VSP and instead, efforts would be made to sort out issues related to mining for the plant and to strengthen the plant to run on its own.

“There is no wish, as on today, or attempt, to go ahead with the disinvestment of RINL. We have better plans for the future of RINL. Whatever problems were there related to mining, we are sorting it out to strengthen RINL and let it run on its own,” the MoS told the media on the sidelines of a Rozgar Mela in Visakhapatnam on Thursday morning.

However, later in the day, during an interaction with union leaders of the VSP, Singh did a volte-face saying that a decision on the strategic disinvestment of RINL was not in his purview as it was a Cabinet decision, thus triggering confusion on the Centre’s actual plans, and in fact, strengthening Rama Rao’s theory of diversion tactics.

However, Faggan Singh’s declaration in the morning that the Centre had put on hold the decision of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs on January 27, 2021 according ‘in-principle’ approval for 100 percent disinvestment of the GoI’s shareholding in RINL through strategic disinvestment by way of privatization, indicated that the Telangana Chief Minister had scored a major victory after announcing that he would not allow privatization of the VSP and making a move to submit an Expression of Interest in the RINL.

Attributing the Centre’s relook on the issue to the pressure exerted by the BRS, Rama Rao said if the Centre was committed to strengthening the steel plant, it should ensure dedicated captive iron ore to VSP.

The Centre was enacting a new drama after the BRS exposed the conspiracy behind awarding the Bailadila mining contract to the Adani Group, he said in a statement here.

Adopting a one shot – two bird strategy, the Centre was denying iron ore supply to VSP and was washing its hands off the AP Reorganisation Act promise of establishing a steel plant at Bayyaram, by awarding the Bailadila mining contract to Adani. The BRS will continue to raise its voice against the BJP’s conspiracies, he said.

“Till the Centre permanently shelves the VSP privatisation plans and establishes THE Bayyaram steel plant, THE BRS will continue to exert pressure,” Rama Rao said, reminding that the entire episode proved that irrespective of their stature, people would have to give in before the Chief Minister’s resolve.

In Visakhapatnam meanwhile, VSP union leaders said the BJP was unable to digest the fact that keeping on hold the privatisation of RINL had turned out to be a major victory for Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and the BRS. They are aghast that the Centre was more keen on taking on the BRS instead of saving the plant which was achieved after 32 persons sacrificed their lives.

Veteran trade union leader Padi Trinatha Rao said Faggan Singh’s claim that the Centre wanted to strengthen the RINL only meant that steps were being taken to attract strong bids from private players.

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