Baramati: Growth surrounding backwardness

Baramati: Growth surrounding backwardness

Baramati: Growth surrounding backwardness

A line of sports utility vehicles on rent is waiting at the mouth of the road leading to Baramati, 100 km from Pune, on the Pune-Solapur highway. If you think this is the sign of prosperity on the periphery of the fief of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, you are not wrong.

Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule is contesting from family fiefdom for the second time.
If a slew of sugar mills – both co-operative and privately owned — dot the region, you are in for more surprise as you enter the town that has nearly 20 lakh population. Glass-covered multi-storied buildings housing all kinds of offices both private and public sector, show-rooms of four-wheelers, large hotels – you name any they are there.  As you go around the town that has changed completely from a sleepy to one of the most progressive urban hubs in the country, you come across milk (several dairy products are exported) and horticulture co-operatives, a score of industries of many sectors, industrial training institutes, etc.

Not to leave behind are the educational institutions for which Baramati has become a hub. The latest addition to the list is the government medical college. There are several engineering and management colleges too. The Pawar family runs the Vidya Pratishthan which has under its ambit a bio-technology college, a law college, other schools and colleges.

The town is home to two major auto leaders. The three-wheeler plant of the Italian company Piaggio and two wheeler Vespa (with a capacity of 1.5 lakh scooters annually) lead the industrial growth that the town and its nearby area has witnessed.

It also has an 800-acre Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation Industrial Area along Baramati-Bhigwan Road, 5 km outside Baramati town’s municipal limits. Under its belt are major companies like Piaggio, Godfrey Phillips, Bharat Forge Ltd, ISMT Limited, Kenersys, Schreiber Dynamix Dairies, etc.

The small scale industries too have been given prominence. It has a high tech textile park having 29 units. “In one unit alone, 10,000 women are working. Another requires about 5,000 women but the company is finding it hard to get them. The 60-acre park houses small domestic garment manufacturers specialising in functions such as garment-making, apparel printing and packaging etc. There is also an aviation training academy.

“The town has seen stunning progress like no other city,” says Milind Waghmore, a local entrepreneur.

However, that is only one side of the story. The area around the town is reeling in backwardness. Perennially drought-hit, only a third of Baramati is irrigated. The rest where more than half its population lives and farms, is dry and dependent on rain.

Mahadev Jhankar, contesting in the current elections reacts strongly. “Pawar has developed only the town and ignored the villages, most of which don’t have water to drink while farmland lack in irrigation facility,” Mahadev said.