Visakhapatnam, Feb 17 (PTI): Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday suggested that the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited could take up real-estate development on over 7,000 acres of unused land belonging to the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant instead of selling away the Navaratna unit.
The state government would issue necessary land use conversion permits for the purpose, he said.
'This will improve the cash reserves of the steel plant and it will become rich.The money can be used for the development of the plant,' the chief minister said, addressing leaders of the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, a joint action committee that's fighting against the proposed privatisation of the plant.
The chief minister, during his brief visit to the port city, assured the committee leaders that the state government would pass a resolution in the Assembly, asking the Centre not to go ahead with the proposed strategic sale.
'There is no second thought about it,' Jagan asserted.
He said he had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi listing three alternatives to the proposed disinvestment but there was no reply yet from the Centre.
'The steel plant is spread over 20,000 acres of land, out of which about 7,000 acres is lying unused.That land could be converted into layouts and sold as plots.The money thus accrued could be pumped back into the plant,' Jagan said.
This would eliminate the need for sale of the steel plant, he added.
The chief minister pointed out that the steel plant was in debts to the tune of Rs 22,000 crore, with interest rates as high as 14 per cent.
'Short-term loans, along with long-term loans, could be converted into equity, taking off repayment pressures and interest burden.' 'Conversion of these loans into equity and listing RINL, Vizag, on the stock exchange, giving banks the exit option, may also be explored to ease the burden of debt servicing and improve financial sustainability,' the chief minister said.
He also wanted the Centre to allocate iron ore mines in neighbouring Odisha as the state had rich reserves.
'RINL already has five mines in Odisha but their lease expired.That has to be renewed, which will make 200 million tonnes of iron ore available for the steel plant,' he said.
'I explained all this in my letter to the Prime Minister.If these measures are undertaken, there will be no need to hand over the plant to private parties and RINL will turn into a good organisation.
I haven't got a reply yet but it will sure come.Let's see what happens,' Jagan told the Committee leaders during the one-hour interaction.
He appreciated the stance taken by the AP BJP leaders against the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.
'I hope all efforts will bear fruit and I strongly believe in the coming days we will get a favourable decision,' Jagan observed.
He appealed to the steel plant workers not to hamper the production because of the ongoing agitation.
'Let there not be any blame that the plant had to be shutdown because of the workers agitation.The plant should run to its capacity and only then will the costs come down,' Jagan added.
'The state government is sincerely committed to protecting the steel plant,' the chief minister summed up.
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