Tamil Nadu government has opposed move to privatise the Salem Steel Plant, saying such a proposal would cause "considerable unrest" amongst the people, particularly amongst those whose lands were acquired.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the plant had acquired a global reputation for its high quality steel and "is an iconic symbol" for Tamil Nadu.

The people of the state have a deep sense of pride and attachment to the public sector plant, he said in the letter dated April 26, which was officially released today.

Palaniswami said the state government had acquired about 15.5 sq.km. of land in 9 villages more than four decades ago at the foot hills of Kanjamalai in Salem for the plant.

"It was possible to undertake such extensive land acquisition mainly because of the public sector character of the plant."

"Today, any proposal to privatise the Salem Steel Plant would cause considerable unrest amongst people, particularly amongst those whose lands were acquired," he said.

Palaniswami said land was "perhaps" the most valuable and sought after asset in the possession of the steel plant today.

It was providing employment to about 2000 persons while many ancillary and subsidiary units also depended on it, he added.