The pride of Andhra seems to be reaching its nadir. In the 60s and 70s when India’s development was dictated by public sector enterprises, it was a determined effort of the people of Andhra Pradesh that won this strategic plant for the state. The Vizag Steel plant was established by the late Smt. Indira Gandhi and it was not easy to convince the central government to take up this project.

‘Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku’ was the main rallying slogan for everyone. People from all over Andhra Pradesh, including current Telangana were on the streets protesting for what they believed is their right to have a massive steel plant in the state. The public sector giants in those days were a beehive of activity and massive job creators. People gave up thousands of acres of land to the government for lowest prices today and if they still retained the land, today they would have been millionaires given the land prices in Vizag city.

More than 30 agitators lost their lives to make this a reality. Tenneti Vishwanatham and others made great history with their agitation and finally the Vizag Steel Plant was established that spurred the development of not only the coastal city but Uttarandhra as well. In 2021, the BJP-led Union Government took a decision to privatize the plant and divest the plant. After a series of half hearted agitations by political parties, now the final moment has come to either save or lose the plant.

With reports that the early quarter of 2023 may see brisk moves in this direction, all the labour unions along with opposition parties in AP are planning a massive agitation on January 30th and on the same day, CM YS Jagan is also expected to land in the city. Sources say that the ruling party as well as the entire opposition may be forced to take a pro-people stand.

Unless there is full support from all parties and state government, we may not be able to save the prestige of North Coastal Andhra this time. At a time when the state has been left with no industrial base following the bifurcation eight years ago, losing an existing behemoth does no good for Andhra. It’s time to give our best and make the central government climb down on ripping off our state’s prestigious industry.

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