DMK president and former TN chief minister M Karunanidhi today requested prime minister Narendra Modi to stop privatising Salem Steel Plant.
In a letter, he said, “Vanakkam. I wish to recall that soon after Arignar Anna took over as the Chief Minister, “Awakening Day” was observed throughout the State of Tamil Nadu on 23-7-1967 to draw the attention of the Government of India for the implementation of the Salem Steel Project and Sethu Canal Project.
The Day had a massive response, as these two projects were the dream – projects of the people of Tamil Nadu for a very long time. During my initial tenure as the Chief Minister on 21-3-1970, while participating in the National Development Council Meeting presided over by Late Thirumathi Indira Gandhi, as the Prime Minister of India, I asserted that Tamil Nadu would not endorse the Draft Five Year Plan unless the implementation of the Salem Steel Project was approved and announced.
As a consequence of this, Thirumathi Indira Gandhi announced on 17-4-1970 on the floor of the Parliament accepting the demand of Tamil Nadu that the Salem Steel Plant would be included for implementation in the Fourth Five Year Plan and in a grand function at Salem on 16-9-1970 presided over by me, she laid the foundation-stone for the Project. Though initially the project started as a steel-rolling Mill, gradually it started developing many-fold and became a popular Steel Project.
The Project has employed more than 2,500 employees directly and more than 5000 persons have got indirect employment.
When the Salem Steel Plant has been at the zenith of its growth and production, the people of Tamil Nadu are startled to know that the BJP Government at the Centre has initiated steps to privatise the plant. Right from the start, the Plant has been running on Profit.
While the profit has reached the Rs. 100 crore mark, 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.
Instead of giving the Plant to private entrepreneurs, the Government should think positively to sustain and strengthen the Plant by posting administrative experts, putting up a power-generating plant and by starting a Rail-Coach Factory at Salem.
The People of Tamil Nadu are emotionally attached to the Salem Steel Plant and any move to privatise it will lead to great disappointment and mass-dissent. Therefore I kindly request your intervention to save the Salem Steel Plant, which is a hard-won Public Sector Undertaking in the State. Your timely intervention will protect the livelihood of thousands of employees and retain a glorious Land-Mark of Tamil Nadu.”