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Visakhapatnam: Steel bandh on March 5

As a part of 17-day-long relay fast, women employees from central stores, administration and town administration taking part in hunger strike in Visakhapatnam on Sunday
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As a part of 17-day-long relay fast, women employees from central stores, administration and town administration taking part in hunger strike in Visakhapatnam on Sunday

Highlights

From rallies to state-wide bandh, Ukku stir gathers steam

Visakhapatnam: Notwithstanding the month-long stir against the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant's (VSP) privatisation decision, the Union government not only refuses to budge but also makes firm moves towards handing over the plant to private players.

In order to mount pressure on the Centre to withdraw its move to privatise the VSP, trade unions and political parties intend to intensify their agitation. Keeping this in view, Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee members and leaders of the left-wing parties are calling for a state-wide bandh on March 5. Earlier, it was supposed to be confined to the district.

But with the Centre preferring to remain silent towards the stir, the committee members plan for a state-wide bandh. While on one hand, the protests erupted across Visakhapatnam district and parts of Andhra Pradesh to save the VSP from privatisation from February 6, the Modi-led NDA government is slowly but steadily stepping ahead towards its decision of 100 per cent disinvestment of VSP undeterred. According to union leaders, the Centre has formed a five-member committee to accelerate the privatisation move. Also, it is learnt that the committee has been given a target of two months period to complete its task.

Condemning the Centre's quick and quiet steps, the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee members and left party leaders are seeking support from various sections of people to extend their cooperation for the state-wide bandh scheduled on March 5.

As part of this, the committee chairman Ch Narasinga Rao along with union leaders approached North constituency MLA Ganta Srinivasa Rao and requested him to make the bandh a success.

In the past few weeks, rallies, public meetings, relay hunger strikes, 'padayatra' and 'rasta roko' were conducted against the proposal of 100 per cent disinvestment of the plant.

Since the Centre is hardly paying any heed to the protests, rasta roko and bandh are being opted by the agitators to put pressure on the Union government.

The trade unions, who have been protesting in various forms since February 6, are garnering support from all quarters across the state. Even unions of BSNL, RTC, LIC, Railways and youth associations are extending their cooperation to VSP unions.

Leaders from various fields are visiting the relay hunger strike camp at Kurmannapalem, conveying their message against the Centre's move and expressing their solidarity with the protestors. Apart from Visakhapatnam, the agitation to save the steel plant is also being carried out in other cities, including Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupati and Prakasam.

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