Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
The workers of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) carried out a protest on 12th July 2022 to demand supply of coal from indigenous coal mines instead of forcing the VSP to import coal. The protest was organised by CITU. All other major steel companies like Tata Steel, JSW Steel, Jindal and Ispat Industries besides SAIL plants are supplied coal from Coal India (CIL) mines while VSP is denied supplies from CIL. It is reported that the import of coal from Australia causes a burden of Rs 12,000 crore on the VSP.
It is obvious that the government is denying coal to turn VSP into a loss-making enterprise to try to justify its privatisation.
VSP has also not been allotted any captive iron ore mine, like all other major steel plants, despite repeated representations. That also increases the cost of production of steel in the VSP.
The workers demanded the intervention of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh to exert pressure on the central government for supply of coal. They also want the Chief Minister to take a delegation of all trade unions to the Prime Minister to ask him to repeal the decision to privatise the VSP.
Workers say that one blast furnace has been already closed due to shortage of coal due to which the production capacity is reduced by 30%. They feared that one more blast furnace would have to be closed if the coal supply is not resumed immediately. That would cause staggering losses to the VSP.