Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to instruct the Ministry of Steel and the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) authorities to drop the proposal for closure of Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL) at Bhadravati.
The JD(S) supremo also has urged the Prime Minister to do the needful for the revival of VISL.
”Sir, you’re well aware that only one public sector steel industry situated in Karnataka i.e., VISL, Bhadravati, if that plant was closed it will adversely affect 20,000 families livelihood,” Gowda said in his letter, which he tweeted on Sunday.
”Sir, with my knowledge on the potential of the workforce and the prevailing working culture at VISL, I sincerely hope that with a few crores of investment, this company can be transformed as a profitable venture and can further contribute to the development of ”Atma Nirbhar Bharath” by catering to the varied departments like Defence, Nuclear, Automobile, Railway sectors etc.,” he said.
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In the letter dated January 15, the former Prime Minister says that he has come to know that under the Central Government’s disinvestment policy feature, in non-strategic sectors, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) will be privatised, otherwise shall be closed, and accordingly the SAIL management has started the closure activities of VISL.
Pointing out that VISL was established by a great visionary and engineer statesman Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya, Gowda while listing out its history, highlighted that during his tenure as the Prime Minister of India, he took initiation action to merge VISL with to Steel Authority of India in 1996, after which it became a unit of SAIL.
The main intention of the merger with SAIL was to upgrade technology through managerial support for the modernisation of VISL through an investment of Rs 650 crore. ”But unfortunately, it did not materialise.” Right from the 2000 onwards, VISL has been presently facing many challenges like disinvestment, divestment, privatisation, joint venture etc, but has not yielded results instead it has affected the morale of the working class and the citizens of this region, Gowda pointed out.
Further suggesting that this plant has a massive capability to produce more than 700 grades of alloy and special steels catering to the requirements of ordnance factories, nuclear complex, wheel and axle units, automobiles etc, he said, ”Hence, there is a dire need for revival of the unit by inducing investment, further attach it to parent units i.e., Steel Authority of India Limited.” Also, an extent of 150 acre captive iron ore mines have been allocated to VISL in Ramanadurga area of Ballari District from the Government of Karnataka and the process for start of mining is at an advanced stage, and it is expected that the mine will be operational by 2024, he added.