Protests against Privatisation of RINL Paralyze Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh observed a complete shutdown on Friday in protest against the proposed privatisation of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited. The state government offices, commercial establishments, cinema theatres, educational institutions and universities remained shut. Protesters blocked roads at several places and the highways wore a deserted look, as the private bus transport operators, truck operators associations and auto rickshaw drivers unions also extended support to the bandh call. Buses belonging to state run Road Transport Authority 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. The leaders of the AP NGOs Association and the employees took out a massive rally expressing solidarity
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.
At Maddilapalem junction in Visakhapatnam, the YSRCP organised a human chain in support of the agitation by the trade unions of the steel plant. Activists of the CPI, CPI (M) and various trade unions also participated in the human chain programme. In Anantapur, CPI (M) activists held a dharna in front of the RTC bus depot. In Vijayawada, the Telugu Desam Party and the Left parties took out a procession from Lenin Centre demanding withdrawal of privatisation move.
Government’s plans to privatise the Vizag Steel Plant have led to protests in the city since last month. In January, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its in-principle approval for 100% strategic disinvestment of the centre’s shareholding in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited the corporate entity of VSP along with management control by way of privatisation.
VSP, commissioned in 1992, is the first shore-based integrated steel plant in the country. The plant employs about 15,000 permanent and 20,000 contract workers and provides indirect livelihood to over 65,000 people. The plant thus supports one lakh jobs and about five lakh people, about a quarter of Vizag city population