Struggling to Preserve its Industrial Legacy: the Silk City Berhampur

The Silk City Berhampur: Once a thriving industrial hub, the bustling streets of Berhampur City were alive with the hum of factories and activity. Over 50 industries contributed to the city’s vibrant economy, providing livelihoods for hundreds. But today, Berhampur, also known as the silk city, faces an identity crisis as it grapples to salvage its industrial heritage.

A Glorious Past Fading Away: In its heyday, Berhampur’s industrial landscape encompassed a diverse range of manufacturing, from radios and wristwatches to spare parts, oils, and medicines. These factories flourished on land provided by IDCO (Industrial Development Corporation). Yet, the vibrant hustle and bustle has yielded to a somber silence. Once-thriving factories are now shrouded by overgrown weeds and abandoned, resembling haunted structures more than beacons of production.

A Relocated Legacy: Factory owners have dismantled machinery and deserted the premises, leaving behind silent signboards that reminisce about the city’s illustrious past. Regrettably, some abandoned factory spaces have fallen victim to encroachments, further erasing their significance.

A Lamented Decline: Berhampur’s transformation into an industrial ghost town has left a poignant impact. L. Sudam Das, a local resident, laments the closure of numerous factories, noting that only a handful of small-scale operations endure. Educational institutions like Parala Maharaja Degree College, UCP Engineering College, Polytechnic College, and an ITI (Industrial Training Institute) continue to educate thousands, but the dwindling job opportunities within the city have forced students to seek prospects in other states.

Remaining Glimmers of Hope: Among the few surviving establishments, two stand out. The MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) department runs a science training center where lemon grass and kewda flower quality is evaluated, offering training to rural youths. A small Chow Mein factory also clings to operation, despite the industry downturn.

A Call for Sustainable Measures: VV Ramarao, the unit head of FFDC (Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre), emphasizes that a cohesive, long-term strategy is essential to resurrect Berhampur’s industrial prowess. Lokanath Dalabehera, the manager of the district industrial center in Ganjam, notes the rising interest of BTech students keen on establishing industries, indicating a potential resurgence.

As Berhampur’s silk city identity wrestles with the shadows of its industrial past, the challenge ahead lies in devising a comprehensive plan to breathe new life into the faded landscape and rejuvenate the city’s once-thriving industrial spirit.

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