ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Papering the Cracks

Steel Plant by Blackmail THE economic and technical merits of Visakhapatnam as the site for the fifth public sector steel plant are totally irrelevant in the context of the the lawlessness that flared up in the principal towns of Andhra last weekend and which had claimed a toll of 17 lives and lakhs of rupees worth of public property till this Thursday when it showed some signs of abating. What sparked off the agitation is not clear. It was not as if a decision on the steel plant was imminent so that the Centre needed to be pressurised by a show of the strength of Andhra's feelings on the subject. The report of the Anglo- American Consortium, which recommended a steel plant at Vizag, had been released to the public in September last year. Yet when the Draft Outline of the Fourth Plan contained not even a token mention of a Vizag steel plant there was no protest, certainly nothing to compare with this week's sudden outburst. Why, only in September the Prime Minister had told a press conference right in Hyderabad that there was no hope of any new steel plant coming up in the Fourth Plan in view of the tight resources position. That she was, in effect, ruling out the Vizag plant must have been clear to her audience and still those whose passionate commitment to the steel plant "spontaneously"' burst out in the orgy of violence this week, did not seem to mind very much.

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