‘Parties should rise above their political affiliation to fight against Centre’
Telugu Desam Party leaders, particularly its national president N. Chandrababu Naidu, should not make the proposed privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant a political issue, said Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao.
Speaking at a media conference here on Tuesday after attending a meeting with trade unions and the CPI, the Minister said:“People of the State, particularly those in Visakhapatnam, are emotionally attached to the VSP and all parties should rise above their political affiliation to fight against the Union government’s move to sell the plant to a private company. The goal should be to save the plant from being sold and not to politicise it.”
He pointed out that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy spontaneously reacted to the decision and has written a letter to the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision. He also reacted to the LG Polymers styrene vapour leak and had immediately paid the compensation.
Accusing the local BJP leaders of keeping silent on the VSP issue, the Minister said the leaders should pressurise the Union government to give more funds for projects like Polavaram and get the Kadapa Steel Plant sanctioned. They even could not get funds for the new railway zone that has been sanctioned for Visakhapatnam, the Minister alleged.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that YSRCP MP V. Vijaya Sai Reddy has already met Union Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman and represented the VSP’s case. He would also meet the Steel Minister and the Prime Minister later.
CPI State assistant secretary J.V. Satyanarayana Murthy pointed out that the valuation of VSP at ₹1,350 crore was ‘atrocious’, when the 22,000 acres of land itself costs over ₹2 lakh crore.
In the VSP’s 30 years of operation, it has made losses for about 14 years and profit for 16 years. It has also paid taxes to the tune of ₹42,000 crore since its inception. Despite that, the Union government plans a strategic sale, said Mr. Satyanarayana Murthy.
According to him, VSP has always been making operating profits and its losses are due to the interests that it has been paying towards its debts and non-availability of captive mines.
If VSP was allotted mines today, it would bounce back with profits within a year, he said.
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