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  Packing of Foodgrains and Sugar in Plastic Bags 
  New Delhi, December 13, 2012: Government has not diluted/deserved Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987(JPMA). As per the provisions contained in Section 4(2) of the JPMA, Government has allowed that minimum 90% of foodgrains (after providing for upfront exemption of 3.5 lakh bales) and 40% of sugar of the total production to be packed in jute packaging material during the jute year 2012-13 (July, 2012 to June, 2013).
  In the meeting held on 20 June, 2012, the Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) considered various parameters prescribed in Section 4(2) of the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987(JPMA) and also representations from various stakeholders including Indian Jute Mills Association. On ascertaining the factual position regarding the availability of raw jute, production capacity of the jute mills and the projected demand of the jute bags as submitted by different stakeholders in the meeting, the SAC came to the decision that there would be shortfall between the demand and supply of the jute bags and recommended some exemption from packaging in the jute bags. In fact, during current Jute Year 2012-13, there has been a cumulative shortfall of about 1.20 lakh bales of jute bags as on 30th November, 2012 due to inadequate supply of jute bags from the mills.
  Violation of Section 5 of the JPMA by 24 sugar mills has come to notice. As per advice of Law Ministry, the concerned District Magistrates have been asked to initiate necessary action against the said defaulting sugar mills under section 9 of JPMA. This information was given by the Minister of Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today. Source: Ministry of Textiles 12-December, 2012
   Jute industry demands reversal of dilution in packaging norms
Bhubaneswar Nov 05, 2012 Shaken by the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to dilute mandatory jute packaging norms for sugar and food grains, the jute industry has now sought the intervention of UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to reverse the decision. 
  The industry held that the CCEA decision will adversely impact 30 million farmers and workers of West Bengal and six other jute growing states. The decision is also set to precipitate job cuts as jute mills will either shut down or cut production shifts."Since 1987, the Congress party has always protected the Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA). It is surprising that the same party has suddenly decided on lifting the protection, without a reason. Moreover, JPMA is an Act of Parliament. It is upheld by the Supreme Court as the government's executive decision since 2001. The decision to dilute JPMA in favour of plastics could be taken only on the floor of the Parliament", Sanjay Kajaria, joint managing director, Hastings jute mill and former chairman, Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) wrote to the UPA chairperson.
  "For 25 years, the Act (JPMA Act) functioned as a pillar against attack from the synthetic lobby for millions of workers and farmers of the jute industry. It is unfortunate that our protector is our predator", the letter added. On October 11, the CCEA diluted JPMA norms by 60% for sugar and 10% in case of food grains based on the recommendations of the Union textiles ministry. The last dilution was done in 2001.
  The Union textiles ministry has recommended dilution despite the fact that the jute industry possesses the installed capacity to produce and supply jute bags more than the demand, said Kajaria. While one million tonne of jute sacks are needed to pack foodgrains, 0.2 million are necessary for packing sugar. The jute industry has the capacity to churn out 1.5 million tonne of sacks and sacking capacity is almost 0.55 million tonne higher than peak government demand.
 "Your party has always protected the jute industry and opposed the use of synthetic bags. The industry looks up to the Congress and you as their real saviour. You alone can force the CCEA to revert on its decision. Your intervention is urgently solicited in the matter as it will save the industry and millions of lives attached to it", Kajaria stated in his letter. Source: Business Standard

  Cabinet panel clears Textile Ministry plan for dilution of norms

  Kolkata, October 22, 2012: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the Textile Ministry’s recommendation for 60 per cent dilution in the mandatory Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA) of 1987 for packing sugar in 2012-13. The committee has also permitted 10 per cent dilution in JPMA for packing foodgrains. The Act directs all sugar factories to use jute bags for packing sugar to the extent of 100 per cent. According to Manish Poddar, the committee is likely to issue an order to this effect next week. “I have not seen the papers yet but it looks like they have approved the dilution,” he told Business Line.
  The jute industry is estimated to suffer a blow of nearly Rs 1,500 crore if the dilution comes through, he added. Estimating the total quantity of jute bags required for packing foodgrains and sugar at 14 lakh tonne for the jute year 2012-13, the Ministry of Textiles in its note circulated to the Cabinet said there was a demand-supply gap. Of the 14 lakh tonne jute bags, 10.67 lakh tonnes would be required for packing foodgrains (the projected requirement for kharif season is around 6.34 lakh tonnes and that for the rabi season is around 4.33 lakh tonnes); and 3.33 lakh tonne for packing sugar.
  “The stated installed capacity (for sacking) of the jute industry is 15.02 lakh tonne for the year. Assuming 83 per cent capacity utilisation, the stated annual capacity is 12.47 lakh tonne. At present, 10 mills remain closed whose total capacity is around 1.5 lakh tonne, which would bring it down to about 11 lakh tonne,” the note said. The Textile Ministry added that availability of a reliable and secure market with guaranteed returns has acted as a deterrent for the jute industry, over the years, which has not sufficiently diversified into non-reserved sacking and non-sacking items.
  There has been an increase in demand for packaging even while the total production of jute goods has remained stagnant thereby leading mills to divert capacities from non-sacking products such as hessian, to sacking. Production of raw jute is estimated at 93 lakh bales in 2012-13. With a carryover of 31 lakh bales and import of 8 lakh bales, the total availability stands at 132 lakh bales. Production and availability of raw jute was sufficient to meet the mill requirements this year, Poddar said. According to a senior official in the jute industry, the dilution would trim down the order book of most jute mills, thereby indirectly affecting workers employed at these mills. “Around 2.5 lakh workers will suffer as 54 jute mills will be forced to reduce work shifts and enforce job cuts,” he said. source: www.thehindubusinessline.com

  Jute Commissioner suggests 14% rise in raw jute MSP
Bhubaneswar Oct 12, 2012: The Jute Commissioner's office has recommended a 14 per cent increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of raw jute for 2013-14 over the existing price, a move that might not go down well with the jute industry that was expecting only a marginal rise. In 2013-14, price of TD-5 ex-Assam grade raw jute is recommended at a minimum of Rs 2,500 a quintal. Last year, the price was Rs 2,250 a quintal. The MSP of raw jute in 20 The industry is in favour of a cut in MSP recommended by the Jute Commissioner?s office and is expected to approach the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). ?I am not aware if any recommendation has been made for fixing MSP of raw jute for 2013-14. The industry had only suggested that a marginal hike over the existing price would suffice?, said Manish Poddar,
chairman of the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA), the apex body for the industry.
   West Bengal-based Jute Corporation of India (JCI) and the Centre for Research in Jute and Allied Fibres (CRIJAF) have calculated the cost of raw jute cultivation in 2013-14 at Rs 2,250 and Rs 2,588 a quintal respectively. Every year, almost 10 million bales (one bale is 180 kg) of raw jute is produced on 800,000 hectares in seven states ? West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh. Almost 75 per cent of raw jute is cultivated in West Bengal. The yield is 27-29 quintals a hectare.
  Almost four million farmers are engaged in jute cultivation. The fibre is produced as an inter-crop between two rice producing seasons. A paltry five per cent of the produce is used as green fibre to manufacture jute bags and other products in jute mills. The rest is consumed as manure and fuel sticks as a replacement for mud oil. Source: Business Standard

   4,000 lose job as Howrah jute mill shuts down
SANKRAIL, September 26, 2012: Low production has forced yet another jute mill in the state to shut down operations. Around 4000 employees of Delta Jute Mill in Howrah were left jobless after the company made the announcement on Tuesday. SDO (headquarters) Bani Prasad Das said, "I have spoken to the jute mill authorities, who informed me that low production had forced them to suspend work and issue a notice." Howrah district  INTUC president Rabindra Nath Mondal said, "They held no talks with union members. The authorities closed the unit on their own."  INTTUC president Arupesh Bhattacharyya added, "It is unfortunate. Labour minister Purnendu Basu h as been informed about the closure. He has assured of assistance." T he jute mill was opened only nine months ago.  
   Rs 45-cr relief package for 2 jute mills

   Kolkata, September  9, 2012: The West Bengal Government on Thursday granted ‘relief undertaking’ status to two jute mills - Khardah Jute Mills and Kinnison Jute Mill –fo r six months. Both the mills are located at North 24 Parganas district of the State. This apart, a relief package of Rs 45 crore will be provided for these two mills. The two mills are currently under the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), Subrata Mukherjee, State Panchayat Minister, told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.

  Textile ministry moots plastic bags for foodgrain & sugar

   Kolkata September 1, 2012: Accusing the jute/gunny bag manufacturing industry for diversion, Rs stagnation and creating Rs bottlenecks to modernization, the union textile ministry has recommended use of plastic bags (HDPE/PP) bags replacing jute bags for packing sugar and food grains produced in 2012 - 13.
  The Ministry's observation and recommendation for using plastic bags replacing jute bags will be discussed at an meeting of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (C.C.E.A) soon. An additional purchase of 3.5 lakh bales (1 bale = 0.3325 tons) of plastic bags is already billed by the Ministry as exigency. To provide further flexibility to consumers the Ministry has decided to allow a further 30 percent dilution / dereservation in favour of plastic bags. As per Jute Packaging Mandatory Act, 1987 food grain and sugar produced is reserved and mandatorily packed in jute bags manufactured every year.
   The continued protection under JPMA, 1987 and stress on sacking products has resulted in jute mills deliberately diverting capacities from non -sacking products such hessian and CBC to sacking / gunny bags ,
derailing modernisation schemes like Jute Technology Mission (JTM) and stagnating product profile for short-term interest. The National Fibre Policy 2011 has already recommended on phasing out of protection and subsidy to jute sector through JPMA, 1987 to make it self - reliant, modern and updated.
  The textile ministry in its note said, "Only a negligible portion" of  the annual turnover of jute mills goes into purchase of new machines. Such purchase are only meant for increasing sacking capacities. According to Ministry the jute industry could not match demands in 2011-12 for supply of 13 lakh bales or 4.33 lakh tons of gunny bags for Rabi supply of 2012 - 13 because of a) inaccurate preseason estimation of crop by Madhya Pradesh govt, b) late placement of indents c) new indentors like Bihar and Gujarat and d) Rs dedicating  or diverting government products to market for higher prices e) opening of new export markets.
   According to Ministry, with 10 mills remaining closed the jute industry is short in capacity by 1.5 lakh ton. Presently, it can produce 11 lakh tons of jute sacks / gunny bags. It's installed capacity however is 15.02 lakh tons and assuming a 83 percent utilization it's stated capacity is 12.47 lakh tons. The industry earn a business of around Rs 10,000 crore by selling its entire produce to FCI, sugar mills and co-operatives and in the market. FCI makes a bulk purchase of almost 35 - 40 % of its produce. In 2012 -13  FCI is expected to purchase 6.34 lakh tons and 4.33 lakh jute/ gunny bags. As per the Ministry?s observation, sugar mills pack only 40% of its production in gunny bags. The offtake is mostly by government/co-operative sector mills. Sugar industry requires around 3.3lakh tons of gunny bags valued at around Rs 2,500 crore. 

   Jute output likely to decline by 12%
  New Delhi August  08, 2012 (PTI): Jute production in the country is expected to decline by 12% to 90 lakh
bales in the 2012-13 crop year due to poor rains in the growing states, the National Jute Board said today.
The country had produced 102 lakh bales of jute last year. One bale of jute is equal to 332.5 kg.
  "Jute output is likely to be lower at around 90 lakh bales this year," the Board's Secretary Atri Bhattacharya told reporters on the sidelines of a Ficci function here. He said drought-like situation in some states and floods in Assam could impact crop condition. As per the Agriculture Ministry data, area sown under jute is lower at 8.40 lakh hectare so far in the ongoing Kharif season, against 8.92 lakh hectare in the year-ago period. Jute is cultivated in seven states"  West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh.In fact sowing of most kharif crops, both food and cash crops, are lagging behind due to poor rains. Monsoon rains were deficient by 20 per cent till July.
  Jute is normally cultivated as an inter-crop between the two main agricultural seasons, kharif and rabi. About 5-6% of the total production is used for making 1.6 million tonnes of jute goods every year. Farmers use the remaining fibre for manure and fuel. The jute industry, which employs about 4 million people directly and indirectly, has been mainly focusing on making gunny bags. The Textiles Ministry wants the jute industry to produce more value-added items. Stressing the need for diversification of jute products, Textiles Ministry Secretary Kiran Dhingra said: "We need to work for greater value-addition to jute products before you can get the jute industry to be in a frame of mind to shift to low-value added products". The natural fibres,  jute, kenaf and allied fibres, are being used in the manufacture of automobiles and infrastructure in the world.

   Inadequate rain plays havoc with jute industry

   Kolkata July 03, 2012: Lower than expected monsoons is set to bring down jute production this year. Last year, backed by favourable weather, jute production was around 108 lakh bales, which was about 15 per cent higher than the previous year. "This year we are getting conflicting reports on jute production. While the use of certified seeds will increase jute production, there has been some damage to the standing crop due to lack of rains," said Atri Bhattacharya, secretary, National Jute Board and jute commissioner, Union ministry of textiles. The production this year would not exceed 100 lakh bales, said Bhattacharya. There could be a 12 per cent drop in production of raw jute to 95 lakh bales this year, as compared with 108 lakh bales in 2011- 12, said sources in the jute industry.
  Last year the Directorate of Jute Development had estimated sowing coverage of 9, 50,000 hectares for jute and allied fibre during 2011-12. This year, jute acreage was almost the same as last year, Bhattacharya said. Jute sowing usually starts by the end of March and continues up to the end of May. Sowing requires a hot and humid weather with regular bouts of showers. However, this year, the state did not receive adequate showers, which is ideal for sowing. Murshidabad and Nadia, the two key jute producing districts of the state, accounting for almost 60 per cent of the country's total jute production,
  Last year, jute prices had been spiraling down on account of a good sowing and higher production of the crop. This year, the government had increased the minimum support price (MSP) of raw jute from Rs 1675 per
quintal to Rs 2200 per quintal this year. Meanwhile, the National Jute Board is planning to initiate talks with
the government of West Bengal to give jute sector the status of an industry,  will give it several exemptions. 
  Jute industry, which is currently highly dependent on sacking, should look at innovation and diversification to improve its market. "There is a risk of being dependent on sacking alone as some markets like Punjab are already running looking for alternatives and are conducting pilot project for storing grains in silos," said Bhattacharya. The Rs 8,500 crore jute industry is facing a severe labour crunch, he said. "We are running out of labour as people are drawn towards employment under NREGA. We need to provide proper working conditions to help retain these labourers." Source: Business Standard

   Over 21570 workers affected in jute and tea mills closure
Kolkata, June 27, 2012 (PTI): Nearly 21,570 workers were unemployed due to the closure of jute mills and tea gardens in West Bengal, Labour minister Purnendu Bose said today. Replying to questions in the state assembly Bose said six jute mills employing 20,669 workers were closed, out of which only two were expected to open in the near future. The six closed units were Hastings Jute Mill (6,000), Sura Jute Mill (1,300), Birla Jute Mill (6,000), Gouripur Jute Mill (2,169), Nadia Jute Mill (4,000) and Hooghly Jute Private Limited unit at Burdwan (1,200), Bose said.
   Tripartite meetings for two units, namely Birla Jute and Nadia Jute, had been held and it was expected that the mills would open shortly, he said. Bose said that the reasons for closure were apathy on the part of managements and trade union rivalry. To another query, he said three tea gardens employing 901 workers have closed. The minister said that the government was paying allowances to the affected workers.
Insurers shy away from jute mills, as claims mount
  Kolkata June 11, 2012: Unusually high claims have prompted insurers to be extremely selective in renewing contracts with jute mills. Baring a few, most jute mills are facing difficulties in getting insurance contracts renewed this year, even with higher premiums. Frequent cases of fire in jute mills, owing to poor safety measures, have resulted in higher claims in the sector for long.
  In 2007, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General stated a leading public sector insurer had suffered a loss of Rs 7.22 crore, as it did not carry out proper due-diligence before giving insurance cover to jute mills. In 2005-06, the claim ratio at the insurance company for Hastings jute mills was 554 per cent, while for Wellington jute mill, it stood at 269 per cent. For jute mills of Champdani Industries in Rishra and Chowdwar, the ratio was as high as 12,122 per cent. "Following the high claim ratios, we have become cautious in giving
insurance cover to jute mills. The insurance cover is given only after proper risk inspection. In the case of jute mills, a single claim can result in a high claim ratio. Thus, based on the inspection, we have been loading the premium," said N S R Chandraprasad, chairman and managing director, National Insurance Company.
  "To get insurance cover for jute mills has become a big problem, as insurers are not ready to cover the risks," said Sanjay Kajaria, former chairman of the Indian Jute Mill Association and owner, Hastings Jute Mill.
Most cases of fires in jute mills were reported in winter, between January-March, which incidentally coincides with the last quarter of a financial year, leading to high claim pay-outs in the last quarter. In January, fire broke out at Naihati Jute Mills in the northern fringes of the city, while in February a major fire broke out at Baranagar jute mill in north Kolkata. "It is difficult to assess the reason behind fires in jute mills, as slight friction may lead to big fires," said Chandraprasad. Source: Business Standard

  Procurement of Jute

  New Delhi, May 8, 2012: Since the price of raw jute prevailing in the comparable period last year was higher, the farmers in the Darrang District of Assam felt aggrieved and blocked the National Highway passing through that area on 10.10.2011 demanding Government intervention for increase of Minimum Support Price (MSP) of raw jute. There was a police firing to clear the national highway in which four persons are reported to have died. The Ministry immediately took up the issue with Govt. of Assam and simultaneously directed Jute Corporation of India (JCI) to start MSP operation in Assam round the clock. JCI started the MSP operation in
Assam from 26.08.2011 and major operations started w.e.f. 12.10.2011. Till date, JCI has procured about 2.30 lakh quintals of different grades of raw jute from farmers under MSP, out of which 32831.78 quintals of raw jute were procured in Assam. Due to the mechanism in place for procurement of raw jute by JCI, the prices are not allowed to fall below MSP so as to avoid hardship to the farmers.
  The Jute Corporation of India (JCI) is the nodal agency of the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India for procurement of raw jute through its 171 Departmental Purchase Centres (DPCs) and State Cooperative bodies in all major jute growing states at MSP declared by the Govt. of India. As per the mandate, the JCI procures the jute directly from the farmers who come to sell their raw jute at its DPCs and other Centres operated by State Cooperative Bodies. This information was given by Smt. Panabakka Lakshmi, Minister of State for Textile in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on May 7, 2012

   Co-op mills pitch for cut in levy sugar obligation

   Delhi, April 13, 2012: The co-operative sugar industry has sought the central government's intervention with a plea to amend its notification of procurement of levy sugar out of 2011-12 sugar season to 4% from 10% so that there is no carry over sugar obligation into 2012-13 sugar season. Besides, it  has made a case for factory-wise fair and remunerative price (FRP) for the season 2011-12 before the end of the first quarter of the season. The National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories, which is a representative body of co- operative units in the country, in its letters to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and food minister KV Thomas also called for the removal of compulsory sugar packaging in jute bags. 
   According to the Federation, the continuation of Jute Packaging Materials Act, 1987, enforcing 100% compulsory packing of sugar and grains in jute bags, is an unnecessary financial burden on sugar factories. About 60% sugar was consumed by the bulk consumers and these jute bags were not acceptable to them because sugar as traces for batching oil used for softening jute and loose fibres were found in jute bags. Source: Business Standard 

  Assembly row over sale of Konark Jute Mill

  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar March 01, 2012: The state government found itself in a tight spot in the assembly with legislators of Opposition political parties as well as the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) questioning the decision to privatize Konark Jute Mill and raising grave concerns over the future of the workers. 
  Training the guns on the industries minister Raghunath Mohanty, independent MLA Pratap Chandra Sarangi and NCP leader Amar Prasad Satapathy said, the government has failed squarely to manage this only jute industry in public sector in the state. The minister needs to inform the house on the present employee strength of the mill, their outstanding dues and the steps taken to ensure that their future is not at stake post privatization. BJD stalwart and former agriculture minister Damodar Rout blamed managerial inefficiency for the mill turning sick. 
  "It is because of the callousness of the bureaucracy that PSU mills are turning sick. Let us try to revive sick units like the Konark Jute Mill in the interest of farmers. Our focus should be on enhancing managerial efficiency instead of handing over one sick mill after the other to a private player," he said.
  Justifying the government's decision to privatize the PSU jute mill, Mohanty said, "The mill's privatization was inevitable as its accumulated losses were mounting despite capital infusion. The losses had reached Rs 27 crore by 2011. The Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) had approved a rehabilitation package for the jute mill in 1992-93. Later, the matter was referred to the Orissa High Court in 2002-03." 
The state government in November 2011 had decided to sell the Konark Jute Mill at Rs 32 crore. 
  Union Minister Anand Sharma Inaugurates Tex Trends 2012
  New Delhi, January 19, 2012: Shri Anand Sharma the Union Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles inaugurated the Tex Trends India 2012, here today. Tex Trends India 2012, aims to provide the biggest platform in Asia to the exporters and the buyers, to bring together the best in Indian Garments and Accessories, Fabrics, Home Furnishings & Made-ups, Indian Handicrafts,
  Handlooms, Jute and Carpets – all under one roof. Speaking on the occasion Shri Sharma said, “Textiles Industry provides gainful employment to large number of people. The sector contributes 14% of industrial production, 4% of GDP and 10.63% of country’s export earnings. It provides direct employment to over 35 million people. The event (Tex Trends) will showcase India’s huge potential as an exporting country and will offer a great variety for its global buyers.”  Referring to recent initiatives for small weavers like loan weaver and special package amounting to about 6500 crore rupees, the Minister said that “while this is impressive, when time will come we will revisit and will do more.” The Minister expressed the concern that small weavers need to be empowered and if need be Government will do more within its own limit to support and train them.
  On export performance the Minister said that given the difficult international climate India may just about touch its target of export of 300 billion US $ 750 billion this year and US$ of total trade barring the trade in services. The government has allocated more than 15000 crore in Technical Upgradtion Scheme the Minister informed that the scheme will continue in next five year plan. On Scheme for Integrated Textiles Parks (SITP) the Minister informed that in the 11th Five year plan 40 Integrated Textile Parks were sanctioned, with a financial allocation of Rs. 1400 Crores. He also referred to the 24 National
  Textiles Corporation Mills which have been revived recently. Smt. Rita Menon, CMD ITPO, said, “Tex Trend 2012 is the culmination of vision to showcase the best of the Textiles Industry. It is indeed emotive to see the Tex Trend shape up into a grand success. It is heartening to know that Tex Trend 2010 generated export of 185 million US $ last year. She later informed that about 1000 buyers will be visiting the fair. Tex Trends 2012 puts a window of opportunities for the industry where products from handlooms to technical textiles are
under one roof. It caters to product categories in casual wear, city wear, high fashion & occasional wear, speciality garments, sportswear, knitwear & made-ups bed linen, napkins, cushion covers, floor mats,
curtains, etc”. Tex Trends India 2012 will see a huge participation from about 600 exhibitors, 10 textile Export Promotion Councils and National Jute Board and global buyers from countries including USA, UK, Turkey, Japan, Spain and South Africa. The exhibition comprises activities like fashion shows, seminars, cultural program and award ceremony. It will also provide a perfect platform to enhance the global reach of India’s wide array of textiles and clothing including Indian Garments & Accessories, Fabrics, Home Furnishings & Made-Ups & Indian Handicrafts. Smt. Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India was also present at the occasion. Source: Ministry of Textiles


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