Andhra observes bandh against privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant
Andhra Pradesh observed a complete shutdown on Friday in protest against the proposed privatisation of Central government public sector undertaking Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) a Navratna company under the ministry of steel.
Except the Bharatiya Janata Party, all the political parties, including the YSR Congress Party, the ruling party in the state, took part in the state bandh.
“We extend support to the state bandh in protest against the Union Government’s decision to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant,” state information and public relations minister Perni Venkatramaiah said.
The state government offices, commercial establishments, cinema theatres, educational institutions and universities remained shut. The highways wore a deserted look, as the private bus transport operators, truck operators’ associations and autorickshaw drivers’ unions also extended support to the bandh call.
Buses belonging to state-run Road Transport Authority (RTA) were off the roads till afternoon, as the employees also staged dharnas in front of the bus depots to express their solidarity with the agitating employees of the steel plant.
“RTC services were stalled till 1 pm in protest against the privatisation of the VSP. However, the RTC employees will resume duties post-lunch by wearing black badges. We have ensured that all the emergency health services will run as usual,” Venkatramaiah, who also holds the portfolio of transport, said.
The minister said the state government had already conveyed to the Centre it was against the privatisation of the Vizag Steel Plant. “Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had already written a letter to the Centre suggesting alternatives to continue the steel plant in the public sector,” he said.
At Maddilapalem junction in Visakhapatnam, the YSRCP organised a human chain in support of the agitation by the trade unions of the steel plant. YSR Congress Party general secretary and MP V Vijay Sai Reddy, state minister Avanti Srinivas, local parliamentarian M V V Satyanarayana and other party leaders took part in the agitation. Activists of the CPI, CPI (M) and various trade unions also participated in the human chain programme.
In Anantapur, hundreds of CPI (M) activists held a dharna in front of the RTC bus depot demanding that the Centre withdraw its plan to privatise the steel plant. They raised slogans against the privatisation of several other PSUs by the Centre.
In Vijayawada, the Telugu Desam Party and the Left parties took out a procession from Lenin Centre demanding withdrawal of privatisation move.
There were clashes at Kaikaluru in Krishna district between the TDP and YSRCP activists over enforcement of bandh. However, the police brought the situation under control.