Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP) at Bhadravati was set up by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar of the Mysuru princely state in 1918, on the advice of M. Visvesvaraya, who was the dewan of the kingdom.
The saga of 105-year-old Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP) at Bhadravati, a unit of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), may be coming to an end. Its employees claim that the board of SAIL has taken a decision to close the unit, which was once the pride of Bhadravati in Shivamogga district of Karnataka. As a result, its 211 permanent employees and 1,340 workers on contract basis are a worried lot.
Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar of the Mysuru princely state had set up the unit in 1918, as per the advice of M. Visvesvaraya, who was the dewan of the kingdom.
Many protests later
For more than 10 years, the employees have met several elected representatives and ministers, and staged protests, requesting revival of the unit. The SAIL board took the decision to close the unit on January 16, when employees were preparing for the 105 th founder’s day, which was celebrated on January 18.
VISP in Bhadravathi commenced production of pig iron in a charcoal blast furnace in 1923.
“We got information about the board decision on January 18 from senior executive officers in the plant. Later, a delegation of workers visited Delhi and spoke to Krishna Kumar Singh, Director (Personnel). He confirmed the decision of the board,” said J. Jagadish, president of the VISL Workers’ Association, on January 20.
The board’s decision has been referred to the Union Government, which is expected to make the official announcement in a few days.
“We were told that the official closure can take a few months. Meanwhile, we have requested the SAIL to retain 211 permanent employees and transfer us to other units of the SAIL,” said Mr. Jagadish.
SAIL officials are believed to have assured the delegation that they would consider their request for transfer to other units. Those who prefer to leave would get other offers, like VRS.
“All these years, we fought for revival of the unit. Now, it is left to the people of Bhadravati and people’s representatives to continue the fight. All the employees are relatively young, I being the seniormost at the age of 43. Our future is uncertain,” said Mr. Jagadish.
The long history of VISP and tribute to founder
The VISP was set up as Mysore Wood Distillation and Iron Works on January 18, 1918. It commenced pig iron production in a charcoal blast furnace in 1923. The unit produced 60 tonnes of pig iron a day. Mild steel production was started in 1936. In the same year, its name was changed to Mysore Iron & Steel Works. The production of ferro alloys began in 1942. Production capacity was increased in 1962.
VISP has 211 permanent employees and 1,340 workers on contract basis. At one time, the unit employed 12,000 persons.
As a tribute to its founder, the company was named Visvesaraya Iron and Steel Plant in 1976. The plant was merged with SAIL in December 1998.
In recent years, production came down, resulting in losses. The number of employees was reduced. At one time, the unit employed 12,000 persons. VISP has got 1,660 acres of land and 4,250 quarters. Now, the VISP township is vacant.