Row over Telangana mines for Vizag Steel Plant hots up

Hyderabad, April 22 (IANS) The row over the allocation of iron ore mines of Telangana for Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) hotted up Monday with a minister from Andhra region asking Telangana leaders not to whip up regional feelings over the issue.

Infrastructure Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, who addressed a meeting organized by workers at VSP in the costal city of Visakhapatnam, reminded Telangana leaders that their region was getting gas and milk from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

“Will you keep quiet if these supplies are stopped,” he asked.

The recent government move allotting Bayyaram mines in Khammam district of Telangana to VSP, a public-sector undertaking in Andhra, has evoked strong protest from Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Telangana leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and other opposition parties.

TRS and others are also demanding that a steel plant be set up in Khammam or Warangal districts instead of taking away iron ore to VSP.

Addressing the huge gathering at VSP, Srinivasa Rao found fault with the threats by Telangana leaders to stop iron ore supply. “This decision will be 100 percent implemented,” he declared.

The minister said iron ore like other natural resources belong to the nation and it was not proper to create a regional divide over sharing of these resources.

He pointed out that VSP was getting iron ore from other states like Chhattisgarh and the natural gas from Krishna Godavari (KG) basin in Andhra is being supplied to states like Gujarat. “Tomorrow, Telangana will also get the KG gas. It will be supplied 2,000 megawatt electricity plant coming up in Karimnagar district.”

Meanwhile, state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana said an integrated steel plant was not feasible in Bayyaram as the iron ore produced there was of not high quality.

Botsa, who is also minister for transport, said both the quality and quantity of the iron ore was not sufficient for a steel plant. He told reporters that VSP proposed to use the same by mixing it with good quality ore it get from other sources.

Meanwhile, police arrested leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Khammam when they staged a sit-in to protest allocation of Bayyaram mines to VSP. Senior leader Bandaru Dattatreya was among those arrested. He demanded that a steel plant be set up in Khammam district.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Balram Naik, who hails from Telangana, expressed the hope that a steel plant would be set up in Bayyaram. He told reporters in New Delhi that he discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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