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Drop plan to sell VSP: Naidu




TDP national president N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday urged the Center to abandon its plan to privatize Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) corporate unit, after it was reached through a battle of long attracted by the Telugu people, who, back in 1960, had joined for the cause with the slogan Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku (Vizag steel is the right of the Andrians).

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the TDP president recalled how the government had announced its decision to build VSP in 1970. The project was set up under the corporate unit of the Steel Authority of India Limited. Later, in 1982, it was introduced under RINL, he said.

Students from Andhra Medical College, Andhra University, Mrs. AVN College and many other colleges throughout Guntur, Krishna, Warangal and East and West of Godavari regions had participated in the movement, led by strong people like Tenneti Viswanadham, Sardar Gouthu Latchanna, Puchalapalli Sudarayya, Chandra Rajeswara Rao, Nallamalla Giriprasad Rao, T. Nagi Reddy and Vavilala Gopalakrishnaiah, among others.

The pride of the Telugu people

The pioneer of the movement, Amruta Rao, from a Dalit community in Guntur district, had organized an indefinite fast, which inspired the Telugu people from all over the State to unite for the cause, said Mr. Naidu.

Claiming that the steel plant was a symbol of sacrifice and pride of the Telugu people, the TDP president recalled that 32 people had sacrificed their lives for the project. He said 16,000 families from 68 villages had donated 26,500 acres of land for the project. Overcoming many obstacles, the steel plant was built and dedicated to the nation in 1992.

The plant, however, amassed losses of 4,000 crore from 1991 to 2000, and was referred to the Industrial and Financial Reconstruction Board (BIFR). But the award of a 1,333-square-foot restructuring package by the Center helped curb losses.

Mr Naidu responded that the VSP was the lifeline of North Andhra, providing livelihood for the cabbages of the people. It was therefore more essential to protect the steel plant, he said.

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