City Flour Mills running out of grist

Though it is difficult to find business and labour, Manjunath and Ravishankar stay on course

Published: 13th September 2017 11:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2017 07:21 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Flour mills were popular in the city till the late nineties. Today, they have lost the market to packaged foods, but Ravishankar S is content grinding about 500 kg of pulses and grains every day.

He inherited the business from his father Shivanna and started running the mill 40 years ago. Ravishankar says, “I take only bulk orders. Families come with pulses, chillies and grains to grind them for sambar or bisibele bath powders. They then sell them in small quantities in packets.” The customers also grind rice and sell instant dosa batter. He claims that he gets about 30 customers every day and proudly believes that is is because of the hygiene he maintains. “I also sell (good) quality products,” he adds.

1. An old starter used to operate grinding machines 2. Ravishankar works for 12 hours at his SVS flour mill 3. A worker collecting the final product 4. Balance wheel, which helps grind the pulses to right finesse 5. Ravishankar grinding ragi, which is commonly brought, along with rice 6. Belt on which  the balance wheel runs

In this waning industry, it is not easy to find replacement machinery and servicepersons. “There were some manufacturers on Magadi Road but they shut down a few years ago,” he says, adding that the toughest to find are the “grinding plates”.  These plates are attached to the mills to select the size of granules, and Ravishankar says that there are few craftsmen left who can make these. BJ Manjunath who has a shop on Gandhi Bazaar Main Road is one of them.

7. Ravishankar fixes the belt, he has taught himself to service the machine with no skilled labour to hire  8. New machine, a pulveriser, at a flour mill in Srinagar 9. Chillies and coriander being weighed before grinding 10&11. Chillies are put in a funnel and pushed into the grinder; it takes about 10 minutes to grind 5 kgs of chilllies 12. Customer filling her containers with the finely powdered chilli and coriander powder 13. Grinding plates kept aside for servicing 14-15 Manjunath is one of the few plate servicepersons left

Manjunath is the third-generation plate maker, his grandfather and his father ran this 70-year-old shop before him. It is a small seven feet by twenty feet room and he crouches in a corner with the machine. “You have to be careful with it,” he says, “if your hand slips, the disk will splinter and cut you.” He services 100 flour mills today, located across the city, charging `300 per pair of wheels. “My grandfather used to have 3,000 clients,” he says.  

Ravishankar says that skilled workers like Manjunath are hard to find. In his shop, Ravishankar’s wife Roopa assists him. He lives with his wife and daughter in Banashankari.The daily capacity of the machine he uses is one tonne. He charges `3 per kg and earns around `10,000 a month. “With God’s blessings, I am able to take care of my family, running the mill.”

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