Udupi, Aug 28, 2018: Moves are again on to revive the ailing Brahmavar Cooperative Sugar Factory, located at Brahmavar in Udupi district, which closed down due to increasing losses in 2004.
The factory, located on 110 acres of land, has had a chequered history. The foundation stone for the Brahmavar Sugar Factory and the Varahi Irrigation Project was laid 38 years ago by the then Chief Minister late R. Gundu Rao in 1980 on the premise that farmers would grow sugarcane with the help of the Varahi project and the produce would be supplied to the factory. While the factory started functioning in 1985, the construction of the Varahi project progressed at a slow pace but gathered pace only in 2004.
The first phase of Varahi Irrigation Project, aimed at providing irrigation facilities to about 3,000 hectares, was inaugurated in 2015. The Varahi Project, when fully completed, will provide irrigation facilities to 15,702 hectares covering 68 villages in Brahmavar, Kundapur and Byndoor taluks in the district.
After the factory closed down in 2004, an attempt was made to revive it by leasing it out to a private sector company in 2008, but the deal fell through. Meanwhile, the factory terminated the services of nearly 200 workers in 2006. The long-pending dues of the workers and farmers were settled after 10 years in 2014. The revival of the factory is estimated to cost about Rs. 60 crore.
In the latest attempt to revive the factory, K. Raghupati Bhat, MLA, said that he had already held one round of talks with the Board of Directors of the factory. It was difficult to approach the government for reviving the factory as it would require heavy investment. This could be done only with private investment. The private company could be chosen through tenders.
Since the water from the Varahi was flowing in some villages, the farmers could grow sugarcane. He would take a delegation, including the board members, to the Chief Minister in this connection after the civic polls, he said.
For the farmers, sugarcane cultivation is more profitable and less labour-intensive compared to paddy cultivation.
Satyanarayana Udupa, farmer from Japti village near Kundapur, said that the farmers would naturally grow sugarcane if the factory was revived. “We can easily make a net profit of about Rs. 25,000 per acre in sugarcane cultivation. Sugarcane does not replanting for four years. I used to grow sugarcane in my field till 2001,” he said.