Andhra govt backs state bandh against Vizag steel plant privatisation on March 5

APSRTC bus services will be stalled until 1 pm.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy
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The Andhra Pradesh government has announced that it is backing the statewide bandh on Friday in protest against the Union government’s decision to privatise the Visakhapatnam steel plant. As part of the bandh, APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) services will be stalled until 1 pm. APSRTC staff will resume their duties after 1 pm, and will be wearing black badges in solidarity with the protest. 

“In the wake of the bandh, public life will not be completely obstructed and all the emergency health services will run as usual,” state Minister for Information and Public Relations Perni Venkataramaiah told the media. The Left parties in the state, as well as the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), have also extended support to the state bandh on March 5, called by the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee. 

Minister Perni Nani said that the YSRCP government is strongly opposed to the Union government’s decision, and noted that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the move. 

In his letter to the PM, Jagan had suggested that the plant could become a profitable venture with support from the Union government, with measures like “allotting captive iron ore mines to bring down the input costs, swapping high-cost debt with low-cost debt, and converting debt into equity through equity conversion.” He also noted that the steel plant is the largest public-sector industrial unit in the state creating employment for several thousands of people. Earlier on February 20, a padayatra (protest walkathon) was also held by YSRCP in Vizag, led by MP Vijayasai Reddy, protesting the privatisation of the steel plant. 

The opposition TDP on the other hand has accused YSRCP of "playing a dubious role" and not putting pressure on the Union government to stall the plant’s privatisation. 

Watch TNM’s explainer on the controversy over Vizag Steel Plant: 

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