The Communist Party of India (Marxist) extended its support to a long march against the proposed privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) at Vishakhapatnam on Thursday.

Carrying banners and flags of the party, the workers of the steel plant walked around 25 kilometres protesting the government’s attempt at selling its share in the steel plant.

The workers of the plant have been protesting against the government’s disinvestment move aimed at privatisation of the plant in Andhra Pradesh.

Exactly a week ago, Ch Narasinga Rao, honorary president of the VSP’s trade union and CITU state president, had reportedly said that BJP president Amit Shah’s claim that the Centre had spent Rs 35,000 crore on the VSP was a lie adding that the actual amount allocated was just Rs 3,600 crore.

He said that the Centre had granted approvals for expansion of the plant but not extended any financial assistance.

The CITU had last year asked why the plant is forced to spend 50 per cent of its earnings for purchase of iron ore when other plants in the country have their own captive mines.

“While all other steel plants spend only Rs 500 per tonne on iron ore, our plant is spending as much as Rs 4,000 for the same,” he reportedly said.

This is what, the CITU claims, is a major reason for the losses suffered by the VSP. The VSP reported a loss of Rs 1,421 crore and Rs 1,236 crore for the financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.

Employees at the VSP have been objecting to the proposed privatisation, which has been in the docks since the time of the UPA government.