The TDP MP responded to two arguments made by the Union government — one that the Vizag Steel Plant was a sick unit and two, that taxpayer’s money was being wasted.

File photo of Ram Mohan NaiduFile photo: Screenshot
news Politics Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - 13:26

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Member of Parliament from Srikakulam Ram Mohan Naidu on Tuesday raised the issue of the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam steel plant by the Union government in Parliament, accusing the Narendra Modi led government of ‘step-motherly’ treatment towards Andhra Pradesh.

In February, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had cleared the privatisation of RINL, popularly known as the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant or the Vizag Steel Plant, triggering an uproar among its employees and protests by political parties in the state.

Speaking during the debate on the Finance Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha, Ram Mohan Naidu listed out several demands that had not been granted to Andhra Pradesh since the state was bifurcated in 2014, like Special Category Status, Polavaram project, formation of a Railway Zone and others.

Taking up the issue of privatisation of the steel plan, he said, “I would like to present my case by talking about the history of the inception of this plant. Around seven to eight years, under the slogan of ‘Visakha Ukku-Andhrula Hakku’ (the steel of Vizag is the right of Andhra). People of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh came together and fought with the Union government for the expansion of the steel plant. Around 32 people have lost their lives and 22,000 farmers have donated their lands for the establishment of this plant.”

“So, today, even if the owner of this plant is the Union government, they have to realise that it was made on the sacrifices of the Telugu people,” he said, adding that the Union government had “conveniently ignored all the emotions and sentiments of the Telugu people”

The TDP MP raised two arguments made by the Union government — one that the Vizag Steel Plant was a sick unit and two, that taxpayer’s money was being wasted.

“Between 2000 and 2015, the turnover has been Rs 1.4 lakh crore and profits after taxes is Rs 12,600 crore. For 13 consecutive years, it has exceeded 100% capacity utilisation. The Vizag Steel Plant has achieved an all-time high of 1.3 million tones in exports...So, I beg to differ whenever they say that Vizag Steel Plant is a sick unit,” he said.

In response to the second argument, Ram Mohan Naidu said that the Union government had sanctioned around Rs 6,200 crore to the plant, but had received Rs 43,000 crore in terms of taxes in the same time period.

The MP also made a reference to China in his speech, saying, “When it comes to exports of iron ore, 82% of our total iron ore export goes to China. We are blocking apps from China. We are trying to boost ‘Make in India’. Now, 82% of our iron ore is going to China. China accounts for all the global steel output. When you have such good functioning steel plants within the country, why don't you give the existing iron ore to them and help them which are under your own care? Why are you showing this step-motherly treatment towards Andhra Pradesh?”

He even referenced former Prime MInister Vajpayee and an earlier consideration to privatise the plant in 1999.

“We really miss him, from the state of Andhra Pradesh. Especially today, we are missing him because the same case of privatisation came during the NDA-I rule under the Prime Ministership of Vajpayee. Chandrababu Naidu, who was the then Chief Minister and Yerrannaiduji, who was the then Parliamentary Party Leader from TDP, led a delegation from Andhra Pradesh, and met Vajpayee. He listened to the unions, to the leaders, and to the people of Visakhapatnam and Andhra Pradesh. He understood their emotions, their sentiments, and then provided equity which made the Vizag Steel Plant debt-free.”

“I would request today’s Prime Minister to walk on the same lines as Vajpayee, help Vizag Steel Plant by giving them good interest rates and captive mines instead of privatisation,” he concluded.