Cabinet move adds lustre to jute

Calcutta: The Union government has allowed the maximum use of jute bags to pack foodgrain, subject to the industry's capacity to meet the demand.

On Wednesday, the cabinet committee on economic affairs extended the mandatory packaging norms for foodgrain and sugar under the Jute Packaging Materials Act.

This means that 90 per cent of foodgrain and 20 per cent of sugar products shall be mandatorily packed in jute bags in jute year 2017-18 (July-June).

As an additional decision, the cabinet has mandated 100 per cent packaging of foodgrain in jute bags if the industry is able to supply the required amount.

"The government purchases jute products worth over Rs 5,500 crore to cater to the core demand of the sector. Therefore, Wednesday's decision will further help in sustaining the demand for jute and support the livelihood of workers.

"Jute mill workers will not be deprived of their statutory dues as a special mechanism will be set up in consultation with state governments to link production control and supply order to ensure timely payment," Union textiles minister Smriti Irani said.

Jute mills had earlier written to the Union textiles ministry expressing their confidence in meeting the packaging requirements but had also highlighted their concerns regarding variation between the initial projection and the final demand from both the state-government owned procuring agencies and the Food Corporation of India.

"For the last several years (barring 2012-13 when large scale dilution took place), the jute industry has rarely defaulted in supplying according to the indent placed with regard to supply of jute bags for the procurement of foodgrain and sugar.

"The industry has the capacity to supply nearly 17 lakh MT of jute bags under the JPM Act, whereas supply of sacking rarely exceeds 8 lakh MT. Therefore, half the capacity of the jute industry remains idle, in so far as supplies under the JPM Act is concerned," the Indian Jute Mills Association had informed the textiles ministry in October 2017.

According to jute industry sources, the divergence between initial projection and final indent in the past has been in the range of 20-35 per cent.

PPP projects in ports

The government has approved a revised model concession pact for projects based on public private partnership at major ports to increase investment.


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