DAVANGERE: From about 140 rice mills 6-7 years back, Davanagere district is now left with only 40 rice mills. According to mill owners, at least two to three mills are being closed every day and many more are on the verge of closure. According to them, drought, lack of support from the government and the GST are affecting the industry.
President of Davanagere Rice Mill Association, Kagundi Bakkeshappa, told TNIE that for the last two years, Davanagere faced severe drought which affected the rice mills. Around 40-50% of production and business was hit by drought. “We encountered lack of raw materials during drought. As the dams now have good water level, we are hoping that our business may look up,” he hoped.
He said that earlier, Davanagere city alone had 80 rice mills. Now, there are hardly 30 rice mills in working condition. “Governments did not come to our aid when we were dealing with this huge loss. Instead, they asked us to start new industries and told us that we will be given subsidies. We invested nearly Rs 4-5 crores on our rice mills. What should we do with the existing one? Meanwhile, we are also not able to compete with the new industries. Government’s policy of encouraging new industries seemed to be a curse for the existing ones,” he said.
Bakkeshappa said mill owners are ready to modernise industry according to new technological advancements. “But the government asked us to start a new one instead of modernising the old one. Taking new connections, new licence and construction of new building is very difficult for us. This is one of the major reasons why most of the rice mills closed in the district. Even the newcomers did not exist in the field for long. They stayed for three-four years and then closed down,” President of Davanagere Rice Mill Association, Kagundi Bakkeshappa rued.