The future of the Dakshina Kannada Sahakari Sakkare Karkhane, also called Brahmavar Sugar Factory, continues to hang in the balance, adding to the anxiety of its workers and the farmers.
The factory was established on the premise that the Varahi Irrigation Project, when commissioned, would provide irrigation to a minimum of 12,000 acres of land in Udupi district, thereby helping in producing 2.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane. This cane would then be supplied to the factory, so that the latter would make a profit.
But nothing went as planned. Though the foundation stone for the factory and the Varahi Irrigation Project was laid at the same time in 1980, the former materialised, while the latter is still under construction.
The factory, which began functioning in 1985, stopped crushing sugarcane in 2004, amidst mounting losses. To deal with the crisis, the Government leased the factory to a private party for Rs. 31.68 crore for 30 years with effect from April 2007. Chairman of the Factory M. Jayasheela Shetty told The Hindu on Thursday that due to some complications, the private party backed out and the matter was under arbitration as per court orders.
According to Mr. Shetty, the factory now owed Rs. 24 crore to the Government. “Our immediate liabilities are to the tune of Rs. 13 crore including Rs. 4.8 crore to the factory workers, Rs. 4.5 crore to cooperative societies and Rs. 1.92 crore to the farmers. We want to sell 10 acres of factory land to raise Rs. 10 crore to meet these liabilities”, he said.
Meanwhile, representatives of a Bangalore-based private company have evinced interest in the factory. “I am confident that the Varahi Lift Irrigation Project will provide irrigation facilities to 10,000 acres of land by 2013. This will turn around the fortunes of the factory”, Mr. Shetty said. But president of Zilla Krishika Sangha, Ramakrishna Sharma said the farmers were ready to grow sugarcane provided they were assured of prompt payment by the factory.
“The Varahi Irrigation Project is not required for growing sugarcane.
The project will only be an added bonus. But the Government should have a will to rejuvenate the factory”, he said.
Secretary of the Factory Workers' Union S. Kumar said that the non-payment of dues to the workers, despite court orders, had ruined them. Some workers had even committed suicide. “We will approach Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and urge him to solve our problem”, he said.
Keywords: Brahmavar Sugar Factory