AP Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has restated that Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) is a Central Government unit and assured that his Government will mount pressure to stall the proposed privatization. During the hour-long meeting with Trade Union leaders at airport special lounge, CM assured them that the State will sincerely bring pressure on Centre to stall privatisation of RINL and shall pass a resolution in the ensuing Assembly session. Further, he clarified that the POSCO company did not meet him on VSP issue but have shown interest in other projects. We gave a written letter to the Prime Minister narrating the background of the VSP, its present crisis and the options to wriggle out.
We hope there will be a positive reply, CM Jagan said and asked the unions to maintain the production level without pushing the Plant into further problems. Last year, we took the capacity to 6.3 million tonnes, he mentioned. Some people are talking about the issue without any effort to take it up at the Central level fully knowing the State has a limited role. Local leaders of the national ruling Party can also take up the issue with the Centre, he added.
The Chief Minister urged the trade unions to cooperate to run the Plant and promised to jointly explore ways to tide out the crisis. As the Plant has no captive iron ore the production cost is going up by an additional Rs 4000 per tonne and a request was made to the Centre to allot one ore from neighbouring Odisha on lease. He stated that RINL already has five mines in Odisha in the name of EIL holding 51 per cent stake.
The Chief Minister mentioned that VSP has debts of about Rs 22,000 crore, of which Rs 12,000 crore are long-term loans, another Rs 10–11 trillion rupees were taken in the form of working capital and converted into long term debts, and suggested the Union Government convert the bank loans into equity. As far as the State government is considered, it has no rights over the VSP.
The Chief Minister clarified on POSCO company, saying that the company people have met him on setting up factories at Kadapa, Krishnapatnam, and Bhavanapadu and not VSP. He said that all efforts are being made to stop the privatisation of VSP and has been waiting for a reply from the Centre. He urged the trade unions to continue running the plant and protest during non-working works, in order to minimize the losses. The Trade Union leaders had appraised him of the situation and they were told to work jointly to tide out from the crisis. The Chief Minister later participated in the Annual Celebrations of Sarada Peetham.