DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi on Saturday stoutly opposed the Centre’s proposed disinvestment of loss making Salem Steel Plant, a unit of Steel Authority of India and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and halt the initiative and protect the livelihood of employees.
The DMK chief, in a letter to Modi, said “the people of Tamil Nadu are startled to know that the BJP government at the Centre has initiated steps to privatise the plant.”
“Information is reaching us that the government of India is taking efforts for its privatisation under the pretext that the plant has been incurring loss.” He said people of Tamil Nadu are emotionally attached to the plant and any move to privatise it would lead to “great disappointment and mass-dissent.”
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Karunanidhi argued that the government, instead of giving the plant to private entrepreneurs, should “think positively to sustain and strengthen the plant.”
He suggested posting administrative experts and putting up a power-generating plant and setting up a rail coach factory at Salem as part of efforts to effect a turnaround.
Tracing the setting up of the plant in early 1970’s after years of persuasion and efforts by Tamil Nadu, he requested Modi to intervene in the matter and halt disinvestment.
“I kindly request your intervention to save the Salem Steel Plant, which is a hard-won Public Sector Undertaking in the State,” he said.
“Your timely intervention will protect the livelihood of thousands of employees and retain a glorious landmark of Tamil Nadu.”
Initially the project started as a steel-rolling mill and gradually developed to become a popular steel project,he said. The DMK chief said that the plant employed more than 2,500 employees directly and more than 5000 persons indirectly.
He also marked a copy of the letter to Union Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh.