Report of Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
It is learnt that the central government held pre-bid consultation in early December 2022 for the sale of its entire stake in the Rastriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the owner of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Steel monopoly groups of Tata, Adani, Sajjan Jindal, besides a few others are reported to have shown keen interest in buying RINL.
The real purpose of the pre-bid consultation is to find out the terms and conditions at which these monopolies will be ready to buy the company. The bid document is drafted accordingly.
The RINL is a profitable PSU having earned profit of RS. 913 Crore in 2021-22 with a turnover of Rs 28,215 Crore.
Big steel monopolies are interested in the RINL as it is the country’s only coast based integrated steel plant. Adani group has already acquired Gangavaram port, located next to the plant. The vicinity to the port makes it easy to export steel and import raw materials. The plant is also in possession of large amount of land of around 22,000 acres for expanding the capacity of the plant.
Employees of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant have been unitedly opposing the sale of the plant from the day the Central government took the decision in January 2021. All the unions of workers and officers have come together to form the united struggle committee – Visakha Ukku Parirakshan Porata Committee – to oppose the privatisation of RINL. The committee has also successfully sought the support of people of Visakhapatnam and Andhra Pradesh and gathered more than one crore signatures in support of their struggle.
This experience poses the important question about the system: Should there not be a mechanism to ensure that the voice of the people and workers is binding on the government?