Fate of Mallya-run Kunigal stud farm hangs in balance

Fate of Mallya-run Kunigal stud farm hangs in balance

Workers fear losing jobs, convene meeting on July 20

The oldest and perhaps the biggest stud farm in India, Kunigal stud farm, is facing the risk of closure. The stud farm was leased out by state government to Vijay Mallya-owned United Racing and Bloodstock Breeders (URBB), a subsidiary of the UB Group, for 30 years in 1992.

The fate of 250-year old stud farm hangs in balance with Vijay Mallya having fled to London to evade the law. Mallya owes debts running into Rs 9,000 crore, including Rs 7,500 crore taken to resurrect the now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, to the banks and various other firms.

The farm was set up by Tipu Sultan to breed horses for his cavalry. Post Independence, Animal Husbandry department took control of the stud farm. The Bangalore Turf Club managed the farm for a while before it was leased out to Vijay Mallya for 30 years in 1992 when Bangarappa was chief minister.
Mallya, a racing buff, pumped in huge moolah to the stud farm. The farm imported many stallions from Russia and West Asia over the years.

Abdul Munaf, trade union leader told DH, "After Mallya fled the country, the workers at the farm are worried about the future of the farm and their future. Currently, there are 130 permanent workers and 80 temporary workers, including security personnel, at the farm.

“The contract workers are being removed without citing reasons. The management used to enter into an agreement with the workers once in four years. The contract period of the workers will end in next two months. But the management is not keen to extend the contract. A special meeting of the stud farm workers has been convened on July 20."

N M Dinesh, manager of Kunigal stud farm, told DH, "We will get a clear picture by December-end. The delay in disbursement of wages to the workers and the differences among the contract workers has led to some confusion."

The stallions and foals from Kunigal stud farm have won many a races across the country. The 'Burden of Proof' stallion and its progeny have made waves at major races and derbys. Currently, it houses over 200 horses of various breeds. But the farm will be relegated into the dustbins of history if the stakeholders, including government, URRB and racing buffs, fail to revive and restore the heritage for posterity.

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