| Golden touch
New Delhi, June 21: The government today decided to raise the minimum support price (MSP) for the main TD-5 grade jute by Rs 10 for the 2003-04 season to Rs 860 per quintal.
It also cleared a subsidy plan for Alliance Air’s north-east operations and special grants for Bihar (as compensation for carving out Jharkhand from the state) and the poverty-stricken Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) districts of Orissa.
Today’s jute price hike was decided on the basis of a report prepared by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
The government also approved a corresponding minimum support price (MSP) for other varieties and grades of raw jute, an official spokesman told reporters here after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA).
Jute Corporation of India will continue to act as the nodal agency for the MSP operations and the losses, if any, will be reimbursed by the government.
Jute production is concentrated in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa which account for 99.3 per cent of the area under cultivation and 99.6 per cent of the production.
The MSP for other varieties and grades of raw jute across locations has been fixed keeping in view the normal market price differentials and the aggregate scores assigned to different grades.
In a significant development for the north-eastern states, the government also announced it will provide Rs 35 crore a year to Alliance Air, an arm of the Indian Airlines, as subsidy for operating flights in the region.
The subsidy has been sanctioned for a period of five years and can be continued after a review.The CCEA has also set a condition for grant of the subsidy — the airline will have to shift the operational hub for the north east service from Calcutta to Guwahati.
Alliance Air operates four 50-seater, ATR-42-320 aircraft exclusively in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya, an official spokesperson said.
The stations that have been linked through the scheme are Aizawl, Agartala, Dimapur, Guwahati, Imphal, Lilabari, Silchar and Shillong.
“Additional air services ensure greater regularity and reliability of connectivity, increase in frequency of services and more non-stop flights, better connections and more convenient timings for passengers,” the spokesperson said.
Airline sources estimate that losses on account of ATR operations in the north-east amount to Rs 38 crore a year.