Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday announced that if the central government goes ahead with the divestment of Nagarnar steel plant, the state government will buy it. He was speaking at the Winter Session of the Assembly and his announcement was part of the government resolution to not allow privatisation of the plant, which was passed unanimously.
The Congress-led government proposed a resolution which was being discussed on Monday, the third day of house proceedings regarding the steel plant located in the Left Wing Extremism-affected area of Bastar.
During the discussion, BJP leader Ajay Chandrakar brought up the decision proposed by then Chief Minister Ajit Jogi when the divestment of Balco was proposed.
Responding to him, CM Baghel said, “We are against the divestment and have conveyed the same to several departments in the Union government. If the divestment process still continues, the state government will buy and run the Nagarnar steel plant,” he said.
On Monday, it was unanimously decided that the state government will buy the plant in case the Centre goes ahead with the privatisation plan. “The question is about the self- respect of Chhattisgarh and the feelings of its Adiwasi residents,” Baghel said.
In August, Baghel had written to the Prime Minister, urging him to revisit the decision on privatisation. However, in October, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave in-principle approval to the demerger of Nagarnar Steel Plant from National Minerals Development Corporation in order to pave the way for strategic disinvestment of NSP’s Rs 23,140 crore new plant in Chhattisgarh by mid-2021.
Tribals in Bastar have been protesting privatisation of the steel plant since it was proposed in 2016, after which the government had to put the plans away in face of heavy opposition. However, on August 27 this year, Centre-owned NMDC demerged the plant, which could be the first step towards privatisation.
The Sarva Adiwasi Samaj, which has been at the forefront of the protest, has cautiously welcomed the government decision. “We gave our land for the public good as NMDC was a government agency. We are protesting privatisation and we will protest it further. If the state government has passed the resolution of buying it, we welcome it. But it should make public of how they plan on buying it out. No private participation should be allowed,” Prakash Thakur, Bastar regional head of the Samaj said.