Since the news of Vizag Steel Plant’s privatization has become public, there have been protests in Andhra Pradesh and people have taken the issue to social media. While the TDP has been vocal about the disinvestment move and the people’s resentment towards it, the ruling party has tried to keep mum.
In February, MP Vijayasai Reddy asked the Union Minister of Steel a question designed to target the major opposition party in Andhra Pradesh, the TDP. The MP asked whether a high-level delegation from POSCO, a South Korean steel-maker, visited RINL recently. It seems unlikely that a senior leader like him would be unaware of any such high-level meetings in his home state. A delegation of POSCO and Hyundai had arrived in Andhra Pradesh in October 2018 during the TDP’s reign and visited RINL-VSP in Vizag. However, no agreements were signed nor were any commitments made. Subsequently, multiple talks and meetings were held between POSCO and the now-YSRCP led Andhra Pradesh government, of which there is no social media mention through official channels.
In June 2019, the same month that the YSRCP came into power, POSCO CEO Bang Gil Ho called Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy to express interest in setting up a steel plant in Andhra Pradesh. In July and again in September 2019, POSCO visited RINL. In the following month, a non-binding MoU was signed between POSCO and RINL. On the basis of the MoU, a Joint Working Group (JWG) was formed the subsequent year. The JWG was set up to “facilitate the implementation of MoU signed between the two companies regarding investment on land owned by RINL” in Vizag. POSCO reportedly sought 1,170 acres of Vizag Steel’s surplus land for setting up the plant. In October 2020, apprehension regarding the privatization of the Vizag Steel Plant rose among the employees giving rise to widespread resentment towards the government. Meanwhile, the government hid the discussions and plans for a steel plant with POSCO from the general public.
MP Vijayasai Reddy has stated his opposition to the disinvestment of the Vizag Steel Plant, but the Chief Minister himself was in at least two of the meetings to privatize the same project. Did the Jagan government then know about the disinvestment of the plant that is a symbol of Telugu resilience?
You can find out more about the issue here: https://aptruth.in/iconic-steel-plant-in-andhra-pradesh-to-be-privatised/