Steel Plant Employees Union, an affiliate of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions( CITU), has demanded that the Centre take over the oxygen plant set up by Air Liquid India Holding Private Limited of France on the premises of RINL-Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) and hand it over to the VSP for production of oxygen.
In a letter to Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday, CITU State president Ch. Narasinga Rao, honorary president B. Ganga Rao, president J. Ayodhya Ram and general secretary Y.T. Das noted that the then Union government in 2009 had allowed the French company to set up a plant to produce oxygen and nitrogen in the VSP.
The company had established the plant in Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, with a production capacity of 1,700 tonnes per day. As per the MoU, the Company must sell its oxygen and nitrogen to the VSP only for a period of 15 years after which the company must be handed over to the steel plant. But the company management had left the plant idle for nine years after completion of construction, they alleged.
It has resorted to litigation since its inception and after several international arbitrations, the judgment came on April 2, 2021, that the company must start its trial run from May 1. But the company has asked for some time to resume the trial run, as the plant was idle for a long time.
The plant can produce 100 tonnes of oxygen per day, which will be very useful for the country amid the pandemic. The VSP is ready to pay the value to the Air Liquid Company, as per the award of the international arbitration tribunal. The VSP management has also agreed to pay ₹85 crore as advance to the company towards the cost of the trial run, Mr. Narasinga Rao said.