Steel plant crisis after standoff at Adani Gangavaram port

State ignores high court orders, RINL CMD flags red signal

Visakhapatnam: The standoff between the Adani Gangavaram Port management and the striking manual workers demanding higher wages has led to a serious crisis at the Steel Plant’s coke oven batteries, posing the danger of its shut down.

These manual workers were formerly fishermen, who had been appointed with a promise of better wages. They had lost their land to the port.

Due to the strike, the supply of coking coal and coal has been stalled at the steel plant since April 12.

The steel executives association went to the high court on May 3 and asked the state government to deploy more police personnel to immediately ensure that the Gangavaram Port supplied coal and limestone to the steel plant through conveyor belt.

The court gave time to the port management till June 24 to negotiate with the workers and resolve the crisis.

The port has around 1,200 regular workers. It took another 519 workers as per the agreement the entity entered into with the fishermen who lost their livelihood. They have been working for the last 15 years and demanding higher wages.

Though the orders for supply of material to the steel plant were issued three days ago, neither the district administration nor the police initiated any action. The association is now contemplating to move a contempt petition.

“I have appealed to all the stakeholders including the striking workers to help in resolving the crisis as the steel plant is in urgent need of raw material,’’ said general secretary of the steel executives’ association, KVD Prasad.

As the raw material stock was depleting fast, Atul Bhat, the chairman and managing director of RINL -- the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant -- wrote letters on Sunday to district collector Mallikarjuna and the commissioner of police to quickly intervene and save the steel plant from a crisis.

The steel plant has five coke oven batteries and three blast furnaces. Currently, one blast furnace is working.

“The production has come down to 3,000 tonnes per day against the normal production of 17,000 tons per day,’’ a senior official told this correspondent on Monday.

The total production was 73 million tonnes per annum when all the three blast furnaces operated.

State president of CITU, Narsinga Rao, said the crisis has reached a peak and “if coke oven batteries go dead, the company would have to spend thousands of crores to revive them.”

“The ruling party is deliberately precipitating the crisis to facilitate privatization of the steel plant,’’ he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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