Davanagere mills lifeline for locals

Davanagere’s mills have always been a lifeline for thousands of families who depend on them for their livelihood. Once famously known as the textile capital of Karnataka, Davanagere city has historically been a town commercially well developed by the Maratha chieftains and later, during the reigns of Tipu Sultan and the Mysore Wodeyars. From the early 1950s till 1990, Davanagere city flourished mostly due to its textile mills which, for years, consistently produced export quality cotton fabrics. Now, however, there is a township located right where the Davanagere Cotton Mills (DCM) existed earlier. Once an important landmark of Davanagere, the DCM was founded in 1936 by the city’s textile tycoon and philanthropist Rajanahalli Hanumanthappa.
Occupying more than 60 acres, the well-established DCM had on its pay roll thousands of locals then mainly dependant on it for their livelihoods.

The present township and the permanently shut down mills remind you of the city of the early 1990s when Davanagere was the “Manchester of  Karnataka”. The DCM apart, there were eight more profitably run textile mills in Davanagere which used to regularly procure cotton from growers in nearby backward villages where cotton remained a major crop till 1990. When local farmers ultimately got the long-awaited Bhadra irrigation water in 1990, they naturally preferred to grow rice and sugarcane instead of cotton. The mills started shutting down.

With the closure of the textile mills one by one in the 1990s, due to changed market trends, labour problem and mainly for want of the basic raw material cotton, thousands of unemployed mill hands were badly in need of work.

Luckily they found employment in the thriving rice mills and Mandakki Bhattis, making puffed rice which are much in demand. According to official data, presently, Davanagere city has more than seven hundred puffed rice units which remain the main source of direct and indirect employment to more than ten thousand families from Bhasanagara, Hegadenagara, Beedi Badavane and Leninnagar, the residential localities near the Azadnagar puffed rice units. The State’s centrally-located district, Davanagere became an independent district in 1997 when Davanagere taluk, after bifurcation from Chitradurga district, was made a full-fledged district.

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