Political parties and trade unions in Orissa on Tuesday threatened to launch protests against the central government's move to offload 10 per cent of its stake in the National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO).
The public sector NALCO has its headquarters, smelter, mines and refinery in the state.
The government at present holds 87.15 per cent stake in the company and the department of disinvestment in the finance ministry has proposed to the mines ministry a 10 per cent dilution of the government share.
The Union mines minister BK Handique last month said in the Rajya Sabha that the government had not yet taken any decision in this regard although the finance ministry has made a reference to consider the disinvestment.
But the disinvestment move has evoked strong protests in the state. The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some trade unions are planning to launch agitations if the centre goes ahead with the disinvestment plan.
"The BJD is against this idea of disinvestment," said chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
"We oppose the move. We will launch state-wide protests if the government disinvests NALCO," Bharatiya Janata Party state unit president Jual Oram told IANS.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said it will stage protest in front of the NALCO headquarters here May 10.
"This is the policy of the central government to privatise the profit-oriented public sector undertakings. We do not see any reason why there will be any disinvestment," Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Janardan Pati told IANS.
"NALCO has reserve funds of more than Rs.4,000 crore. Now the government is planning to sell 10 per cent of its stake to raise Rs.2,000 crore saying that it would be used in the expansion of NALCO," he said.
"So many banks are eager to handover money to the profit-making public sector undertakings. NALCO should seek funds from the banks or should utilize its reserve funds" said Pati.
NALCO has plans for growth in the aluminium sector and wants to diversify into the other metals and the power sectors. It has also plans to set up projects abroad.
The leader of the opposition in the state assembly and senior Congress leader, Bhupinder Singh, said his party supports the disinvestment move and hope it would help in financing NALCO's expansion programme.
The central government has in the past initiated steps to reduce the government's equity stake in NALCO a number of times but had to drop the plans due to strong protests by all the political parties and trade unions in the state.
"The union mines minister BK Handique during his visit to the state in March had assured that there was no plan of dilution of government equity in NALCO" said Madan Mohan Dhal, a leader of the NALCO employees union.
"We are surprised with the latest move."