VIJAYAWADA: The Siris company in Ashok Nagar, one of the city’s major landmarks for over six decades, will soon give way to a cluster of commercial and residential complexes. Founded by the state legislature council’s former deputy chairman Gokaraju Subba Raju aka GS Raju, Siris Pharma Limited has been closely entwined with the political history of Andhra Pradesh and the city as well.
Raju who also served as city Congress president ran his political activity with the firm that is known for its presence in bulk drugs, formulations and animal health as a pivot. The firm was inaugurated by the first governor of Madras Province Colonel Maharaja Rao Sri Sri Kumarsinhji Bhavsinhji in 1950. Later, it hosted the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959 .
Very few people in Vijayawada, with over 12 lakh population, can claim to be unaware about Siris. “It is hard to believe that the company will slip out of our lives,” says one of the city’s veterans Turlapati Kutumbha Rao who served as political secretary for Siris Raju during the latter’s tenure as chairman of the legislative council.
Former minister Kanumuri Bapi Raju told media: “I am not able to digest the turn of events pertaining to the company after Raju’s death. But the end was inevitable as his sons are not able to run it.” After a fire in the company claimed the life of Raju’s son-in-law Rayapu, the founder passed away in 2013 at the age of 94. The firm has remained closed since then.
According to information, the family members of Raju handed over the eight-acre plot to a Hyderabad-based real estate company to build commercial and residential complexes on the premises. A source from the real estate company told media that it was decided to initially build posh residential apartments in 2.8 acres on the other side of Bandar Road.
The company is expected to go ahead with its commercial ventures in 5.3 acres abutting the main road in the next phase. The soaring land value is expected to be around Rs 300 crore, which might have tempted Raju’s family members to capitalise on it instead of burning their fingers in the loss-making pharma field. The company reported a net loss of Rs 20.40 crore on a turnover of Rs 31.94 crore in 1999.
The company was vandalised during the violence that broke out in the city after Congress leader Vangaveeti Mohanranga Rao was killed in 1988. His supporters suspected that GS Raju played a role in his murder due to intra-party rivalry. He was assaulted by Ranga’s followers right in Andhra Ratna Bhavan, the city Congress office, following a row over celebration of Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary. This reportedly incited raging intra-party feuds between Raju and Ranga, president of the city Congress in those days.
G Vijayalakshmi, former director of Narayana Schools, residing behind Siris, feels relieved over the signboards hung up by the realty company about its takeover. The pharma firm faced hostility from the residents of Ashok Nagar and Ayyappa Nagar areas for several years mainly because of the foul smell coming from it. The people allege that the waste let out from the company was polluting the groundwater and also mixing with the drinking water sources.