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TS govt skips VSP bidding, Singareni fails to submit EoI

DECCAN CHRONICLE | L. Venkat Ram Reddy

Published on: April 20, 2023 | Updated on: April 20, 2023

Vizag Steel Plant (VSP). (Photo: Twitter)

Hyderabad: After creating a lot of buzz over the issue of bidding for the Vizag Steel Plant (VSP), the BRS government stayed away from filing the Expression of Interest (EoI) for funding of working capital/raw material requirement of steel plant, the deadline for which ended at 3pm on Thursday. The BRS leaders said neither the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) nor the Telangana State Mineral Development Corporation (TSMDC) filed EoIs.

Within the deadline, 29 companies submitted proposals, five of which are said to be overseas firms while the remainder being domestic companies. The Telangana government announced its intention to submit an EoI for the VSP on April 9, the same day the state government issued "selective leaks" to the media claiming that SCCL, of which the Telangana state government owns 51 per cent, and the Telangana State Mineral Development Corporation (TSMDC) would bid for the VSP. The state government also sent a team of SCCL officials to Vizag to participate in the bidding process, causing political uproar in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, as well as a war of words between ruling BRS leaders in Telangana and ruling YSRCP leaders in AP.

While BRS leaders claimed that they decided to bid for VSP to save the plant from privatisation because the ruling YSRCP and opposition TDP remained silent against the BJP-led Central government's attempts to privatise the plant, YSRCP leaders hit back asking the BRS to first revive closed public sector units such as Nizam Sugars before making such lofty claims about bidding for VSP.

Former CBI officer V.V.Laxminarayana hailed the decision of the Telangana government to bid for VSP and thanked Chief Minister K.Chandrashekar Rao for trying to save the plant from privatisation. At one stage, the BRS ministers claimed that the Centre went back on VSP’s privatisation due to the pressure exerted by the BRS with its decision to bid for VSP referring to a "confusing statement" made by Union minister of State for Steel, Faggan Singh Kulaste in Vizag on April 13.However, the Centre soon clarified that the VSP privatisation was on.

The original deadline to submit EoIs ended on April 15. As many as 22 companies submitted EoIs within the deadline. However, there was no EoI from SCCL.  It sought extension of the deadline. The deadline was subsequently extended to April 20. This triggered speculations that Singareni would submit EoI on the last day which did not happen on Thursday. BRS sources now claim that they never said they will bid for VSP and they only said that they had sent a team of Singareni officials to VSP to explore the possibilities for bidding. Interestingly, none of the ministers nor BRS leaders commented on what led to the Telangana government staying away from VSP bidding on Thursday.

The BJP took the BRS government and the Chief Minister to task for failing to submit EoI for VSP after making tall claims on the issues. BJP state president Bandi Sanjay on Thursday said the entire country was laughing at KCR due to his "mindless acts". "CM has brought disgrace to Telangana with his mindless acts on the VSP issue. CM has made Telangana a laughing stock and made Telangana people bow down their heads in shame. After making tall claims, KCR ran away from bidding for VSP," Sanjay said. He added that CM has not kept his word even on the revival of Bayyaram Steel Plant, Nizam Sugars, Rayon Factory. "This proves that KCR and BRS only make tall claims but never do anything. It proved again that KCR is a man of words and not actions," he stated.