Employees of the National
Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) intensified their protests
against the strategic divestment
of the company’s Nagarnaar steel plant in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar
NMDC, which is the country’s largest producer and exporter of iron-ore, had set up a steel plant with a capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in Nagarnaar, near Jagdalpur. Of the three mechanised iron-ore mines owned by the NMDC, two are located in the Dantewada
district and share a major proportion of company’s total output. The two units used to feed the Nagarnaar steel plant.
A day-long strike was observed in the mines on Friday that crippled production.
“The agitation would intensify further as we would be calling for a bandh (strike) in Bastar
soon,” said Rajesh Sandhu, secretary of the workers’ body Samyukta Khadan Mazdoor Sangh
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to Bastar, is also likely to go to Nagarnaar to extend support to the protesting workers.
According to Sandhu, the government cannot sell the Nagarnaal steel plant as the gram sabha had, in a resolution, approved the setting up of a unit by NMDC.
He added that workers were primarily against privatisation and did not take opposition to the divestment
plan as such.
“We do not have any objection if the Nagarnaar plant goes to any public sector,” Sandhu explained.
In February, workers had taken the matter to the steel secretary, who had given assurances saying that the plant would not be sold to a private entity.