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Belgaum poised for further growth in industrial and farm sectors

VIJAYKUMAR PATIL
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The initiatives of native entrepreneurs have paid rich dividends

IMPORTANT PLAYER: The foundry cluster in Belgaum plays a major role in the industrial economy of the district. — Photo: D.B. Patil
IMPORTANT PLAYER: The foundry cluster in Belgaum plays a major role in the industrial economy of the district. — Photo: D.B. Patil

Though Belgaum essentially has its roots in a strong agrarian economy, the district has made envious progress to become an important commercial hub of North Karnataka.

The initiatives by native entrepreneurs have paid rich dividends not only to the district but also to the State by way rising to the level of being the second biggest contributor of export revenue (in the manufacturing sector) to the State Exchequer.

Equipped with good natural resources, skilled/unskilled and industrious manpower, and having excellent road and rail connectivity, Belgaum is poised for further growth in the industrial, agricultural, commercial and educational as well as the health and tourism sectors.

It is already a major producer of sugar, vegetable, and timber. Thick evergreen forests of the Western Ghats with an average (district) rainfall of 800 mm and temperature ranging from 25° Celsius degrees to 40° Celsius degrees during summer and 18° Celsius degrees to 26° Celsius degrees during winter make the climate salubrious indeed.

The district, particularly Belgaum city, offers good facilities in the areas of education, healthcare and services. The Government is implementing 24 x 7 drinking water supply in some parts of the city. It is to be extended to all other parts within the city corporation limits in a phased manner.

The main industrial activities are sugar, textiles from powerlooms, foundry, castings, high pressure hydraulics, heavy machine tools, crank shafts, automobile body building and cotton yarn.

Its human talent is seen in a wide range of activities with skilled artisans in carpentry, blacksmithy, pottery, gold and silver jewellery making, leather goods, khadi products, wooden toys, etc. The leather chappals, originally made in Athani taluk but marketed as “Kolhapur chappals”, both in India and abroad, come in evidence of the availability of skilled and talented human resource.

In addition to forest resources such as timber (teakwood and rosewood), there are substantial deposits of minerals such as limestone, bauxite, manganese, iron, and clay in the district, which prompted HINDALCO (Indian Aluminium Company) to take up production here.

Recently, surveys have been carried out and test-drilling conducted to study feasibility aspects before exploiting uranium deposits in Deshnur, a small village near the city.

The district, which has earned the sobriquet, “sugar bowl” of Karnataka, is a leader in sugar production too in the State.

There are 12 sugar factories and a few more under different stages of implementation. As on March 31, 2010, the investment in 33,707 units account for Rs. 75,285.19 lakh and employment created for 2,23,637 people, according to T.Siddanna, Deputy Director, District Industries Centre, Belgaum.

Fresh proposals

The recent Global Investors' Meet in Bangalore has come as a major boost to the industrial growth of the district with 13 major companies coming forward to make a total investment of Rs. 21,097.76 crore to create employment opportunities for more than 17,000 persons in the district.

Foundry cluster

The city of Belgaum is known for its foundry industry manufacturing world-class products.

Thus, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries identified the city for creating a cluster in recognition of the growing potential of the foundry industry and to provide world class infrastructure to make it competitive to achieve further excellence.

At present, there are 142 foundry units, most of which are small scale and the remaining medium and large scale, all manufacturing ferrous and non-ferrous castings, 85 per cent of which are exported. There are about 50,000 persons working in this cluster.

IT park

The Karnataka State Small Industries Development Corporation has created necessary infrastructure for the information technology park in Desur on Belgaum-Khanapur Road (National Highway 4A), while steps to set up a textile park at Vaghvade have been delayed due litigation by land owners.

The QuEST has established an aerospace Special Economic Zone near Hattargi on Pune-Bangalore (National Highway 4 on the Golden Quadrilateral), about 35 km from Belgaum city. The unit, which was launched in November last, has been set up to manufacture aerospace components and sub-systems to meet the requirements of the aviation sector.

Powerloom sector

The powerloom industry of Belgaum is one of the major employment providers to poor sections of society.

The industry, which looms saris marketed as “Shahpur sari”, employs over 25,000 skilled and unskilled persons.

This sector needs modernisation to meet the growing quality demands of the global market.

VIJAYKUMAR PATIL

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