Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao has dared the Centre to file a defamation case against him if he was wrong in saying that the Narendra Modi dispensation was trying to deny the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) in Andhra Pradesh and the proposed Bayyaram steel plant in Telangana the 136 crore tonnes of iron ore available at Bailadila in Chhattisgarh state.
Speaking to media persons at Telangana Bhavan in Hyderabad on Tuesday, 11 April, the BRS working president said: “Bailadila is hardly 160 km from Bayyaram and 600 km from Visakhapatnam. But the Centre is facilitating an Adani-owned company to exploit the iron ore available there for supply to a steel factory which Adani has planned at Mundra in Gujarat, in a joint venture with a South Korean Company.”
Exploring possibility to bid
The industries minister said that the state government had sent a team to VSP to explore the possibility of bidding for it in the wake of the Centre putting up for sale the factory which was “built by the blood and sweat of the Telugu people”.
“The BRS is opposed to privatisation attempt of any PSU. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had said he was opposed to the Centre’s policy of socialisation of losses and privatisaion of profits. That is why the state was considering bidding for the plant, though a decision is yet to be taken,” he said.
“An expert team is touring Visakhapatnam at present. After it submits a report, the government will take a call on the proposal,” he added.
The minister said that the BRS government has been demanding that the Bailadila mines — which has ₹6 lakh crore worth iron ore — should be entrusted to the state-run mining companies like Singareni in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation.
He said that such a move will pave way for their proper use which would ultimately benefit the employees of the PSUs and people at large.
— BRS Party (@BRSparty) April 11, 2023
But a sinister conspiracy was afoot to starve VSP of captive iron ore and deny Telangana a steel plant which, in fact, had been guaranteed by Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, 2014, so as to help Adani to profit from it, KTR alleged.
“Narendra Modi has been dedicating projects to private companies when he should be acting the other way round,” he said.
Rama Rao recalled making a proposal way back in 2018 to move iron ore from Bailadila to Bayyaram through a slurry pipeline, since the Centre was saying time and again that the iron ore available at Bayyaram was of low quality, which too was debatable.
As the distance between Bayyarm and Bailadila is only 160 km, laying of a slurry pipeline is possible, and he had proposed to the Centre to split the cost equally between the two governments.
The BRS leader said what he did not understand was the unfolding of an evil plot of those at the helm to entrust the iron ore mines to an Adani-promoted company.
Even though Telangana was asking for Bailadila ore and Andhra Pradesh too was demanding captive mines for VSP, the Centre had cut an agreement with a South Korean company to set up a steel plant in Mundra which is 1,800 km from Bailadila, in partnership with Adani.
BJP criticises KTR
KTR came in for sharp criticism from the BJP leaders for making comments in connection with the Bayyaram and Visakhapatnam steel plants.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member K Laxman came down heavily on Rama Rao saying he and his father and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao promised to open Nizam Sugar Factory within 100 days but failed to do so.
At the same time, the BRS government failed to take necessary measures to reopen the sick units including Ajamjahi Mills, Praga Tools and HMT factory, among other factories, he said.
Rama Rao, who is making remarks against Modi, failed to take steps to prevent encroachment of prime lands of HMT, Laxman added.
“In Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, it was clearly mentioned that the central government would only examine the feasibility of setting up of Bayyaram steel factory in Khammam. Before criticising anyone, the BRS working president should look into the act,” Laxman noted.
In a separate statement, the BJP national executive committee member and former MP Vijayashanti said that Rama Rao was resorting to mudslinging on the NDA government after the TSPSC question paper leak case came to light a few weeks ago.
Rama Rao has no action plan to revive the sick units in the state but he was speaking against Modi in connection with privatisation of Visakhapatnam steel plant, she said adding that he was speaking only lies and spreading false information.
In another statement, the BJP national vice-president DK Aruna said Rama Rao lost his mind after the TSPSC question paper leak case surfaced, affecting over 30 lakh unemployed youth in the state.