The proposal for collaboration by South Korean steelmaker POSCO with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited is mired in controversy for over a year with the rival unions of RINL, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, resolving to set aside their differences and take their struggle against the joint venture to the notice of the corridors of power in the State and national capital.
Coming to a common platform raising emotions over the circumstances which led to the establishment of Indias first shore-based steel plant in Visakhapatnam after spearheading an agitation under the banner of Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku which claimed the lives of 32 activists, the unions have now decided to march to New Delhi.
The Delhi programme will be followed by a massive Chalo Assembly on December 13. We are getting support from all quarters, including the executives to save VSP from opening the floodgates for its privatisation under the alibi of incurring losses continuously, CITU-affiliated Steel Plant Employees Union president J. Ayodhyaram told The Hindu.
Though Union Minister for Steel Dharmendra Pradhan was non-committal on the joint venture plan, informed sources said while Hyundai, another South Korean company was not keen on joint venture now, POSCO reportedly wanted 3,000 acres, of which 1,167 acres in the first phase, to set up a four-million tonne special grade steel to meet the demand of automobile industry on the premises of RINL. The project is expected to involve an investment of 20,000 crore and RINLs land may become its equity once the deal takes a final shape.
SPEU, the recognised union, INTUC, AITUC, YSRCP Trade Union and other unions are firm in taking up the agitation with the support of the public and the elected representatives. Mr. Ayodhyaram said instead of the joint venture, RINL should go ahead with its coporate plan to expand its capacity from 6.3 million tonne to 11.3 million tonne during 2021.
Memo to CM
Visakha Steel Employees Congress general secretary Mantri Rajasekhar in a memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy here on Wednesday sought his intervention to stop joint venture with POSCO.
Though as per the memorandum signed with Ministry of Steel, RINL was supposed to achieve a turnover of 25,000 crore by the end of the financial year, it may not reach the target due to continuous sluggishness in the market on account of economy slowdown.
RINL clocked 20,844 crore turnover during last fiscal registering a growth rate of 25% over the previous years 16,625 crore.
The unions have been demanding merger with National Mineral Development Corporation as a way out to overcome the problem of resource crunch. NMDC has forayed into steelmaking by constructing a three-million tonne steel plant at Nagarnar in Chattisgarh.