RINL privatisation decision sparks massive protest in Vizag

  • Raising slogans like ‘Save Steel Plant,’ protestors took out a bike rally from Kurmannapalem to the GVMC office in the city

  • According to the protesting employees, the steel plant has been making losses because it does not have captive iron ore mines

Vizag: Day after Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey tweeted that the Cabinet has granted its in-principle approval to the privatisation of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), employees of the Vizag-based steel PSU took out a massive rally on Friday morning, demanding that the decision be rolled back. Raising slogans like ‘Save Steel Plant,’ protestors took out a bike rally from Kurmannapalem to the GVMC office in the city.

“Whatever we have been fearing all these days has finally happened. We have been left with no option but to fight it out till the Centre withdraws the proposal,” said D Adinarayana, a trade union leader at RINL.

‘RINL has been making losses because it imports raw materials’

An RINL employee, VM Naidu, who spoke to Hindustan Times, said, “The basic reason for this underperformance of the plant is lack of raw material. Unlike Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and other such plants, the VSP does not have its captive iron ore mine. We have been depending on the supplies from Bailadila mines being run by the National Mineral Development Corporation and importing coking coal from Austria.” 

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He added that because other steel plants have their own captive mines, they are able to get iron ore at Rs 1,500 per tonne, whereas the RINL spends Rs 7,000 per tonne. “We require 20,000 tonnes every day and that is resulting in huge losses to the company,” the employee was quoted as saying.

Srikakulam MP writes letter to FM against RINL privatisation

In a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, for Srikakulam, Ram Mohan Naidu, said, “Visakhapatnam Steel Plant came into existence only due to the revolutionary agitation of the people of Andhra Pradesh during which the state was united under the slogan ‘Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku’. Students, workers and common citizens lost their lives in the fight to have a steel plant in Vizag. 4 villages were evacuated and 22,000 acres of land was acquired to build this gigantic steel plant.” While remarking that his father, late Yerrannaidu, had resisted attempts to privatise the plant, the TDP leader said that the Vizag-based steel plant is a symbol of Telugu pride and that privatising it would be hurtful to Telugu people.

The backdrop

On January 27, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of 100 percent shares of the Central government in RINL, along with management control, by way of privatisation. RINL has a steel-making capacity of 6.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) and is looking to expand it to 7.3 MTPA. In FY2019-20, RINL incurred a loss of Rs 3,910 crore. Previously, the PSU had posted a nominal profit of Rs 97 crore in FY2018-19 and a net loss of Rs 1,369 crore in 2017-18. The revenue from operations stood at Rs 16,618 crore in 2017-18, Rs 20,844 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 15,920 crore in 2019-20.

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