The Telegraph
Saturday , August 30 , 2014
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Jute weighs steps to regain lustre

Sengupta in Calcutta on Friday. A Telegraph Picture

Calcutta, Aug. 29: The National Jute Board is looking to diversify into geotextiles for civil engineering activities to provide mills with other options to use their excess capacity.

Efforts are on to work with the different departments of state governments so that they include geotextiles in the schedule of rates of tenders, without which contractors will not include the material in construction.

The industry produces 16 lakh tonnes of jute products, of which around 9 lakh tonnes are bought by the government for packaging. The rest is sold either in the domestic or the export markets.

“In case, the government stops taking these bags, these mills should be given an alternative utilisation. We are thinking of bulk application areas and one of them is geotextiles for civil engineering applications. This will cover slope, roads and for preventing soil erosion,” said N. Sengupta, chief finance officer of the National Jute Board.

Roads made with jute geotextiles can bring down the project cost by around 10 per cent and ensure zero maintenance for five years. Of all the geotextiles used in the world, only 4 per cent are natural geotextiles.

Jute accounts for about 50 per cent of this natural geotextile, while the rest is coir. The share of natural geotextile is slated to go up to 10 per cent by 2014.

“Technologically, we have the standards approved by BIS. The main problem lies with its applications. Until it is mentioned in the schedule of rate during tendering, contractors would not include these materials in construction. And we cannot make it mandatory,” he said.

So far, around 500 km of roads have been laid in the country with geo-textiles.