Farm laws’ repeal raises hopes of steel plant workers in Vizag
The recent announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealing the three controversial laws on agriculture succumbing to pressure from the year-long agitation by farmers has given a ray of hope the workers of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam.
Thousands of workers of the RINL, a corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, have been agitating for the past 10 months against the Modi government’s decision to privatise the steel plant as part of its policy of disinvestment in public sector undertakings across country to raise ₹2.5 lakh crore.
On Friday, the steel plant workers under the banner of Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Samithi (Struggle committee for protection of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant), took up a novel programme, “Vanta-Vaarpu” – cooking on the roads, in protest against the steel plant privatisation move.
The workers erected makeshift kitchens on the roads at several places Ukku Nagaram (Steel City), Kurmannapalem junction, Pedagantyada and Telugu Talli statue etc and took up cooking of food as part of the agitation.
“The Centre has taken a wise decision to repeal the controversial farm laws under pressure from the farmers who have been agitating for the last one year. On the same lines, the Modi government should withdraw the proposal to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant also,” struggle committee convenor J Ayodhya Ramu said.
Stating that the workers of the steel plant have been agitating for the last 288 days, Ramu said their struggle would continue till the Modi government withdraw its move to privatise the steel plant. He said all sections of people and all the political parties, barring the Bharatiya Janata Party, extended support to the agitation.
The committee also wrote a letter to Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Thursday requesting him to take up the issue with the Centre once again and prevail upon it to withdraw the privatisation move.
“We are thankful to the government for adopting a resolution in the state assembly in the past, requesting the Centre to drop the proposal for the 100 per cent strategic disinvestment in the steel plant in the form of privatisation. We are also thankful to you for writing twice to the Prime Minister in this regard. It is time to bring pressure on the Centre again to withdraw its privatisation plan,” the committee said in its letter to the chief minister.
It reminded that the Centre had decided to repeal the farm laws under pressure from the agitating farmers all over the country. The struggle against steel plant privatisation, too, has the support from all sections of people and the political parties. Yet, the Centre is going ahead with the privatisation move by appointing legal and transaction advisors, the committee said.
“Under these circumstances, we request you to write yet another letter to the Prime Minister again, explaining him our commitment to continue the agitation and requesting him to drop the privatisation move so that the only major steel plant in the state is protected,” the committee said.