The future is bleak for Nizam Deccan Sugar Factory.
The facility has been shut since 2015 due to decisions of successive governments.
Employees of Nizam Deccan Sugar Limited in Bodhan start 180 km ‘Akali Poru Padayatra’ from Bodhan to Industries Minister KT Ram Rao’s residence on Monday.
Nizamabad: This is a bitter story of the eight-decade-old Nizam Sugar Factory also known as the Nizam Deccan Sugars Limited (NDSL). Once the second-largest sugar factory in Asia, the factory was shut in 2015 and its revival seems difficult now. The seventh Nizam of Hyderabad had started the factory in 1937 to save money on the imports of sugar. Families of several workers are now in serious financial hardship due to the factory’s closure, as they haven’t received their salaries since five years.
The land, which has been vacant for years, has caught the eye of realtors and private industrialists. The Nizam Sugar Factory near Bodhan is now in the hands of private individuals. In addition to the management of the factory, hundreds of acres of land belonging to the factory also came under the control of other persons.
NDSL’s staff & workers union’s general secretary S Kumara Swami expressing his resentment said, “Leaders use our plight to further their interests. No one is bothered that our lives are on the line.” Bodhan Sugarcane Growers Association general secretary G Gopal Reddy says the revival of NDSL has become a political slogan for all parties, but very little has been done to actually help sugarcane growers.
The Nizam laid the railway line exclusively for the sugar factory and brought engines for the trains from London, recalled former employees. Originally, the factory was started in Bodhan, Nizamabad district. Later, the management set up six more sugar factories in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. About 16,000 acres of agricultural land in Bodhan would cater to the factory.
However, the factory’s downfall began when the then N Chandrababu Naidu government started to disinvest the factory in Swiss Challenge mode. Naidu handed over some of the factory lands to SCs, STs, and BCs. Some lands were auctioned for a throwaway price of `20,000 per acre, recalled a retired employee, adding that now the cost of the land was around `50 lakhs per acre. Naidu’s decision was against his predecessor NT Rama Rao’s decision to not sell government lands.
However, there has been a good demand in the market for these lands for the last five years. Initially, the price per acre was between Rs 1 lakhs and Rs 3 lakhs now it is between 10 lakhs to Rs 20 lakhs. As a result, prices have skyrocketed in the Bodhan urban areas, Kotagiri, Rangel, and Edapally zones. Some industrialists and realtors are competing to buy land along major main roads. Noticing this demand, some of the farmers themselves are selling their lands to the highest bidder.
Locals are reminded of the promise made by former CM KCR that the Nizam Sugar Factory would be taken over by the government within a hundred days of coming to power. Even if the government does not take over the factory, they regret that they are not able to protect the existing historic building and the lands belonging to it. However, locals want the government to respond and protect the historic Nizam Sugar Factory lands so that the factory can be put into good use.
Earlier Revanth Reddy also slammed the TRS Government for not reviving the Nizam Sugar Factory which it promised to do within 100 days after coming to power in 2014. He said the farmers were cheated by BJP and TRS on multiple counts.
Senior Congress leader P Sudharshan Reddy also says that the farmers are facing serious crises in Nizamabad as paddy is not getting them lucrative prices anymore. In this context, sugarcane is a better alternative to cultivate, he suggested.