SHIVAMOGGA: Bhadravati taluk was once considered to produce the best jaggery in the state, but its reputation is in tatters these days with the influx of spurious products.When this was brought to the notice of the district administration, it conducted a few raids on Aalemanes (traditional jaggery manufacturing units). Imagine their surprise when they found out that in many places, jaggery was being made without its main ingredient — sugarcane juice.
This situation is the result of the closure of MPM Sugar Mills in Bhadravati when almost all sugarcane growers turned to making jaggery on their land. Some got together to set up their own Aalemanes while some did it individually.Along with Mahalingapura of Bagalkot district and Pandavapura of Mandya, Bhadravati is the largest producer of jaggery in the state.
Earlier there were more than 150 Aalemanes in the taluk, but now the number has dwindled to 92. As the quality of jaggery is good, the price too is high. So, to encash on this, new jaggery makers started producing spurious products.This came to light when authorities of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and police raided some of the aalemanes in Aralihalli and Thiplapura of the taluk on the direction of the Additional Deputy Commissioner.
“We were shocked to see that inferior quality jaggery was being made using chemicals and fertilizer. We will bring this issue to the notice of the DC and necessary steps will be taken,” said Shankarappa, district officer of FSSAI.The members of Aalemane Owners Association have urged the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to stop the manufacture of inferior quality jaggery.Zilla Panchayat member and Jaggery unit owners society president Manishekhar said, “Today we have convened a meeting of all our members. We have reprimanded those who were engaged in making spurius jaggery. The society will not support such people.”
How inferior jaggery is made
The jaggery makers would bring residues of jaggery made in Mahalingapura and Pandavapura and very low quality sugar that was rejected by factories and mix them with water, fertilizer and other chemicals to make jaggery.While traditional jaggery makers use residues of sugarcane as fuel for boiling the cane juice, new jaggery makers use tyres, plastic and other such wastes as fuel. Several loads of tyres and plastics at the aalemanes caught the attention of people, said an aalemane owner.Many villagers and residents started complaining about the smoke emanating from such aalemanes to police, which also blew the lid on the manufacture of sub-standard jaggery.After the raid, the FSSAI and police recovered huge stock of tyres, chemicals and fertilizer.