For sugar farmers in Telangana the news that the new Congress Government has set up a high-level committee to revive the Nizamabad Sugar Factory, the crown jewel of the State, comes as sweet tidings.

They are happy because Nizamabad is known for its high sugar recovery rates and revival of the factory would help them get assured returns. But at the same time, they are wary because every new government in the last 20 years has promised to revive it but it has never really happened.

Set up in 1937 under the Nizams, the sugar factory was one of the most successful factories in the country. In Nizamabad district availability of irrigation facilities was much higher than the rest of the State and the factory did well. Its success story attracted global attention too. The University of London had allowed a PhD thesis on ‘The Development of Sugar Industry in Nizamabad’ in 1969.

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But then the factory went through ups and downs, until it finally became defunct in 2016. The private player that bought the majority share in the company in the early 2000s wound operations unable to run it.

For political parties, the sugar factory has been an emotive issue. It was one of the key issues in the Telangana movement too, with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader K Chandrashekar Rao making a promise to revive the sick unit and make it a public enterprise again. However, he too gave up in 2016, offering farmers a financial support of Rs 200 crore if they were willing to take charge of the operations.

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The Congress Party, which promised a revival in its manifesto in 2018, now has decided to set up a 10-member high-level committee headed by D Sridhar Babu, Minister for Industries and IT, to study the issue in detail and come up with a set of recommendations.

The committee is expected to meet soon, complete the study and submit its recommendations in a month.

“We don’t have any hope. There is nothing left there. The Government needs to invest heavily to set up the machinery afresh,” Sarampally Malla Reddy, 85-year-old farmers’ leader who has been working with the sugar cane farmers in the area for over 50 years, told businessline.