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  Labour shortage hits jute mills in West Bengal
  Bhubaneswar December 23, 2010: After sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh, it's now the turn of jute mills in West Bengal to reel under shortage of labour. This has forced many jute mills to reduce their production hours and go for production cuts. The 52 working jute mills in West Bengal employ around 400,000 workers and the labour shortfall is about 30 per cent. 
  The workers are more nterested in getting engaged in different government schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and other alternative sources of income like employment in real estate and security services. Workers do not even bother losing jobs if a mill closes down. Some mills in Hooghly are closed for the past four months and the workers are not bothered as they have found alternative jobs locally,  said an industry source.
  Though jute mills are considered the highest daily wage payers in the textile sector, they are increasingly finding it difficult to employ a new person or retain an old hand. A newcomer gets a daily wage of Rs 227, while an experienced worker earns Rs 404.
There are also mills which are paying a daily wage of less than Rs 100 and are violating the terms of the recently signed industry-wide tripartite agreement with the West Bengal government and the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA). The jute industry has a statutory outstanding of around Rs 600 crore by way of gratuity, provident fund and ESI dues. We have failed to provide the necessary infrastructure and ambience in mills to workers. Today, no worker would be interested to work in jute mills under polluting conditions only for a meagre additional payment of Rs 50 per day in comparison to other available source of income. Besides, mill managers have also lost all communication with workers, said a jute mill owner.
  Mill owners will have to change their old attitude towards workers and stop exploiting them and behave like industrialists. They behave like mercantilists and feudal lords. Unless the babu culture is destroyed, the jute mills will not survive, said a jute union leader. Manish Poddar, chairman of IJMA, declined to comment.
  A worker earns between Rs 130-140 daily in other industries of the textile sector like synthetics, wool, silk and cotton. Under the MGNREGA scheme, the daily payment is also as low as Rs 150-160. However, for other industries like real estate and security services,  the payment is higher than Rs 300 per day depending on the nature of job. The jute industry is not covered under the Minimum Wages Act as it is governed by the tripartite agreement.
  The jute mills in West Bengal produce 90 per cent of the country?s jute goods. The industry can produce 2.3 million tonnes jute goods. The jute industry, with a turnover of Rs 8,000 crore, has had a very small compounded annual growth rate of around two per cent in the past 10 years. Source: Business Standard

  Sugar mills not using jute bags for packing sugar, says govt
  New Delhi, Decembe 9, 2010 (PTI) The government today said it has received information that sugar factories are violating its order by not using jute bags for packing sugar. "Indian Jute Mills has informed that sugar factories are using synthetic bags for packing sugar in violation of the existing order," Minister of State for Textiles Panabaaka Lakshmi said in a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha.
  The Ministry of Textiles had issued an order, under Jute Packaging Materials Act, 1987, on August 28 this year stipulating that 100 per cent foodgrains and sugar will be packed in jute bags during 2010-11 (July-June). For implementation of the order in the sugar sector, the ministry had issued a letter on September 18, 2010 to all sugar mills with a copy of the order directing them to comply with stipulations contained in the order, the minister said. Besides, the Textiles Ministry had requested the Department of Food and Public Distribution to issue instructions to all sugar factories to use jute bags for packing sugar. As per estimates of Jute Advisory Board, in 2010-11, the production of raw jute is likely to increase to 107 lakh bales from 90 lakh bales estimated for 2009-10 season. 

  National Fibre Policy to take birth by year-end

  Chennai/ Bangalore November 27, 2010: The Centre is expected to finalise the much awaited ‘National Fibre Policy’ by the end of this year. That will remove the disparity in taxation and pricing of various fibres in the country.
“Proposed ‘National Fibre Policy’ is now in the public domain for feedback. The Union government is expected to finalise the policy by the end of December,” V Srinivas, joint secretary, Ministry of Textiles said.
  Despite a huge production base of natural fibres like cotton, wool and jute along with man-made fibres, Indian textile industry is losing its share in the global market. The proposed policy is expected to iron out the disparities in taxation structure and pricing with a composite policy on exports. On the textile exports from the country, Srinivas said the ministry was hopeful of achieving a $25 billion exports during the present financial year.
  “As far as exports are concerned, yarn exports is doing pretty well and all councils are showing over 20 per cent growth on a year-on-year basis. Though apparel exports have been showing a negative trend, it’s not the case for ready-made-garment (RMG) egment. So, we should achieve $25 billion export target by end of this fiscal,” he said on the sidelines of an event to announce the extension of ‘scheme for integrated textile park’ (SITP) here. He also said, the government was receiving encouraging response for the SITP. Source: Business Standard

  Jute mills to move court over textiles ministry report

   Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar October 08, 2010: With the Union textiles ministry scrapping the Tariff Commission (TC)'s
report of 2009 on fair price of jute bags, prominent jute mill owners have decided to take the legal recourse to redress their grievances and ensure the implementation of the TC report. 
   Some of the top jute mill owners are going to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) soon in the Calcutta High Court against the textiles ministry's decision to scrap the Tariff Commission's report of 2009. The jute industry cannot afford to sell B Twill jute bags at prices that prevailed during 2001,  said a top official of Indian Jute Mills Association (Ijma), the apex body of the jute industry. Source: Business Standard   

   Awareness camps to promote mesta
  Andhra Pradesh, September 13, 2010: The Andhra Pradesh Jute Development Centre (APJDC) will organise awareness camps across the state to promote Mesta crop, used as a raw material for jute.Farmers in the state cultivate mesta on only 38,000-40,000 acre. On an acre, mesta production is in between 10 and 12 quintals. The state has 30 jute units, which require 2-2.5 million quintals of mesta. However, as the current production is about 400,000 quintals, mills have to depend on West Bengal and Bangladesh for the remaining raw material, said B V Rama Rao, vice chairman and managing director, APJDC. The awareness camps will be held during October. APJDC aims to increase the mesta cultivated area to 1.5-2 million acres in the state in coming years, he said
  Rama Rao said the jute parks proposed by APJDC in Visakhapatnam, Guntur and Rangaeeddy districts would attract a number of jute mills, which would require huge quantities of mesta. Source: Business Standard

   Centre turns down proposal for setting up first jute park
   Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar, September 06, 2010: In a blow to the jute industry, the Centre has turned down the proposal to set up the country's first jute park at Shaktigarh (West Bengal). The proposed jute park project has been hanging fire for over two years with the erstwhile Jute Manufacturers' Development Council, now called the National Jute Board (NJB), raising technical blockades and the departments of panchayati raj and land reforms of the West Bengal government locking horns over the authorized delegation of the title of the land allotted for the project.

  Raw jute output may fall 15-20% on poor monsoon

  Bhubaneswar Sep 03, 2010: Raw jute production is likely to fall 15-20 per cent short of the targeted 1.07 million bales in 2010-11 because of deficient monsoon.According to industry estimates, there may be a shortfall of 1-1.5 million bales this financial year. 
  Starved of the fibre crop, jute mills have stocks for only seven days. Due to shortage of water, the harvest is almost 50 per cent less in the major growing districts of Murshidabad and Nadia in West Bengal  Together, these two account for over 60 per cent of West Bengal’s jute production. The West Bengal government has declared 11 districts as drought-hit, out of which seven have jute fields.
  The Indian Jute Mills Association (Ijma) has pressed the panic button and put the members on red alert. The shortfall in raw jute output has sparked fears of closure of jute mills, leading to job losses and labour unrest. Meanwhile, there is rampant hoarding of raw jute and prices have shot up by Rs 700 a quintal, which is almost 35 per higher than the normal, say sources. At present, the price of the TD-4 variety of West Bengal raw jute is Rs 3,100 a quintal. The jute industry has blamed the Centre, the West Bengal government and jute research bodies for not making arrangements for water retting as a buffer against bad monsoon. The West Bengal agriculture department and the state textile and agriculture departments have not responded to the repeated requests by Ijma.
  About four million jute farmers are engaged in sowing this inter-crop between two rice seasons on almost 80,000 hectares of land. Over the past few years, the jute acreage has come down by almost 0.3 million hectares as farmers have moved to other remunerative crops like oilseeds and vegetables. Even the rise in the minimum support price of jute has failed to attract the farmers. Source: Business-Standard

  Textile ministry seeks relaxation in jute packaging Act
  Mumbai Aug 04, 2010: The textile ministry has recommended relaxation in the Jute Packaging Material Act 1987. Sources close to the development said the proposal was under the consideration of the Cabinet and a decision would be taken soon.
  This assumes significance as the chemicals and fertiliser ministry has demanded a repeal of the Act to increase the use of plastic bags.Ministry sources said the Act could not be repealed as it would hurt a particular commodity. However, it would be relaxed so that other materials could be used along with jute, they added. The chemicals and fertilisers ministry is of the view that in a market economy, manufacturers should have the liberty to use the material that they find convenient. At present, it is mandatory to use jute bags for sugar and foodgrain. However, according to the proposed relaxation, other materials might be allowed to be used for packaging some foodgrains up to certain quantity.
  “The relaxation will be done because this year, while jute production is good, foodgrain production is expected to be high as well. So, there should not be a problem for the jute industry,” said the official. It will also be a great incentive for the plastic industry. In fact, the chemicals and fertilisers ministry had recommended a repeal of the Act based on a technical study conducted by the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment (ICPE). Source: Business Standard

   Industrial Tripartite Committee on Jute Industry

  New Delhi , July 20, 2010 (PIB): A meeting of the Industrial Tripartite Committee on Jute Industry was held on 20th July, 2010 at New Delhi under the chairmanship of Shri Harish Rawat, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment. The representatives from workers? organizations (BMS, INTUC, VITU, AIUTUC), Employers? Federations (AJMA, AIMO, and Laghu Udyog Bharti) of the Jute Industry sector as well as representatives of State Governments of West Bengal and Bihar participated in this Meeting.
 The Committee discussed the issues related with lower productivity in the Jute Industry, non-payment of gratuity to workers in the Jute Industry, non-payment of provident fund dues to the workers and non-payment of ESI deductions from the workers to the ESIC. A presentation on the status of the Jute Industry and initiatives taken by the EPFO and ESIC to help the workers in the Jute Industry was  made in the meeting. While there was a broad consensus between workers, unions and employers associations on the need to provide assistance in the form of soft loan to the employers so that old gratuity dues are cleared, the workers 
unions unanimously voiced the plight of workers who were yet to receive their gratuity. They also highlighted the poor safety conditions in the mills, varied wage structure in the industry, the need to protect this industry in view of environment friendliness, etc. The Employers associations raised the issues related with squeezing of profits in the industry and allowing them to utilize their non-productive assets in a better way in order to create funds for clearing the social security dues.
  Summing up the deliberations, Shri Rawat underlined the need for enhancing productivity of the industry through greater emphasis on research and development. He directed that apex trade unions should also be informed while carrying out joint inspections by EPFO and ESIC. He pointed out that non-payment of gratuity dues results in the old workers continuing work in the Industry in the hope of getting their dues cleared in future which prevents the generation of new employment in the Industry. He requested the Ministry of Textiles to take a view on the proposal of providing a soft loan to clear the statutory social security dues. He assured the participants that DG, FASLI will be advised to study the safety measures prevalent in the Jute Industry in order to assess the safety conditions. He also stressed the need for having a study conducted to analyze the wage structure for various categories of workers in the industry.
  The Minister thanked all the participants for their suggestions and stressed the need for a constructive cooperation from all stake holders  workers, employers as well as State Governments  so that legitimate concerns of the workers as well as the industry are taken care of. 

   Textiles Sector on the Recovery Path 

   June 9, 2010: Indian Textiles sector recorded significant recovery in spite of the global financial crisis, inflationary trends and volatility in commodity prices, which led to build up of strong demand side pressures. The Ministry of Textiles initiated policies for faster and inclusive growth and participatory development. The objective was to maintain the incipient export growth momentum, increasing production and productivity in cotton and cotton yarn, enhancing value addition in garment and apparel sectors, promoting rich heritage of handlooms and handicrafts, institutional strengthening in jute sector, and enhanced acreages under mulberry production and safeguarding employment opportunities. In addition, the Ministry of Textiles tried its best to utilize the better growth prospects of Indian economy for attracting larger capital flows/ foreign direct investment. This was stated by Thiru. Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of Textiles, while addressing the media persons on June 9, 2010.

   Select export sectors may get more sops 

   New Delhi, May 25, 2010 (PTI): Exporters of engineering products and handicrafts may get more fiscal sops to help them tide over the demand crunch, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said. He said the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in his ministry would complete a performance review of different sectors in July. Labour-oriented export sectors like handicraft, jute, engineering goods and electronics registered negative growth in March, despite the country's overall exports showing 54.1 per cent expansion. In a similar exercise in December, the government had provided some market- and product-linked incentives. For encouraging export diversification outside the western economies, the Commerce Ministry had extended incentives on shipments to 41 new markets. The government intervened with a stimulus packages when exports plunged after October, 2008, under the impact of global financial woes.

Industry seeks curbs on raw jute exports
  Bhubaneswar April 30, 2010: Faced with the problem of rampant exports of raw jute to countries such as Pakistan, China and Vietnam at a time when jute mills in India are starving of the fibre crop, the industry has urged the Union textiles ministry to impose immediate curbs on raw jute exports on the lines of the existing restrictions in raw cotton exports. The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA), the apex body, has sought intervention of the Union textiles secretary, Rita Menon, to restrict raw jute exports, ease prices and make the fibre available to jute mills in the country.In a letter to the Textiles Secretary, Manish Poddar, IJMA chairman has sought suspension of all mandatory pre-shipment registration of raw jute and jute waste exports, if any, for an indefinite period. The association has also demanded the imposition of all possible non-tariff barriers.
   Besides, IJMA has suggested that a de-hoarding exercise should be undertaken by the textiles ministry in collaboration with the Jute Commissioner’s Office, Jute Corporation of India and the West Bengal government to make the fibre crop available to the jute mills and overcome the problem of artificial shortage.According to industry estimates, approximately 73,000 bales of raw jute were exported during April-October 2009 to countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
  This has increased further. IJMA has alleged that clandestine exports are taking place through various ports in the country and also through the porous borders of Nepal and Bangladesh.What has irked the industry is the fact that the artificial shortage of raw jute has been created at a time when the production in the country stood at 11 million bales in 2009-10.Despite a favourable crop production, the jute mills in the country have been grappling with shortfall of raw jute due to spurt in exports and hoarders who have engineered an artificial raw jute crisis. Being starved of raw jute, many jute mills have already started forced production cuts and the situation may lead to subsequent shut down of the mills and job losses if normal jute supplies are not restored. Source: Business Standard

  Centre takes hard view on jute industry

  Kolkata April 06, 2010 : The Centre has taken a hard view of the non-compliance of the jute industry as they have failed to meet the quota fixed for them during the Ravi season and decided to ignore their plea for the same in the coming Khariff season. In a meeting held at Union textile ministry a few days back, the office of the Jute Commissioner apprised textile minister Dayanidhi Maran about it. According to the office of the Jute Commissioner, 51 jute mills failed to supply jute sackings to the Food Corporation of India during the Rabi season. Earlier, the jute industry lobbied hard with the Union government highlighting their problems due to shortage of government orders. Accordingly, the industry was given order to supply 1, 04,000 bales of sackings for the Rabi season, which they failed to comply with.
  Reports reaching the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA), the representative body of the jute industry, from the Union textile ministry indicate that the government has refused to issue fresh order to jute industry and asked them to supply the sackings at a price fixed during the Rabi season. The IJMA officials admit that the fault lies with the jute mills as most of them ignored the government order and sold their product in the market as that fetched a better price.Now, the industry, which is very much depended on government for its market, is in a fix. The going price of raw jute in the off season has peaked to Rs 31,000 per tonne, and the ongoing price of the sackings is Rs 47,000 per tonne.
  But the government is asking the industry to supply the sackings at the old price of Rs 31,000 per tonne. Moreover, the government has refused to call any meeting to fix the price and quota of jute sackings for the coming Khariff season. According to IJMA sources, the jute industry, which experiences periodic crisis, is likely to face another one soon if the government continues to harden its attitude towards the industry. On Wednesday, Delta Jute Mill in Howrah suspended its work causing serious disturbances in that area. The irate workers put fire to a godown full of raw jute. 
  According to IJMA officials, the industry which faced a 61-day strike in 2009, might be in for further trouble if the present impasse with the Union government continues. But one thing that made the industry happy is the decision taken by the Union textile ministry to form a Jute Board. The proposed Jute Board, where the industry and the workers will have adequate participation, will eventually make the Jute Commissioner's office redundant. Source: Business standard

  Andhra pradesh to get jute park
  Hyderabad, March 9, 2010: With a jute park having been sanctioned in the Sabbaravarm mandal of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, the jute industry is set to get a boost in the state. The park is proposed to be set up through a public- private partnership at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore. Of this, the Central government will contribute Rs 40 crore for creation of physical infrastructure, including roads, office buildings, a laboratory, training centre, raw material and finished goods warehouses and other facilities. It will also provide a 20 per cent investment subsidy on plant and machinery for units to be set up at the park. Andhra Pradesh Jute Development Centre (APJDC), a special purpose vehicle formed  to promote the jute industry, will pool in another Rs 40 crore and the state government will provide assistance of Rs 20 crore. 
Jute Mills Association chairman Sanjay Kajaria resigns 
  Kolkata, February 26, 2010: The tripartite agreement in the jute industry which paved the way for ending the strike after 61 days has triggered resentment within the industry with Sanjay Kajaria, chairman of the industry’s apex body, the Indian Jute Mills Association, submitting his resignation.“I was accused of surrendering to the government and the unions”, Mr. Kajaria told The Hindu, saying he is not prepared to accept this charge. “It was my moral responsibility to resign,” he said. The strike was called off following an agreement which would result in a Rs.1,164 increase in their monthly wages including a dearness component of Rs.321.
61-day strike costs jute industry Rs 2,200 crore
  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar February 16, 2010: The end to the 61-day strike in the 50-odd jute mills of West Bengal on Firday may have brought some cheer to the mill owners but the unwarranted strike has cost the jute industry Rs 2200 crore. During the strike period, the jute industry, the size of which is estimated at Rs 7000 crore, suffered a production loss of  Rs 1200 crore.
  Adding to the woes of the industry is the dilution of up to 76 % in mandatory packaging of food grains and sugar in jute bags, a move which was announced by the Union textiles ministry during the strike period.The dilution plan dealt a blow to the already beleaguered jute  industry, resulting in a loss of Rs 1000 crore. 
  Out of the total requirement of around 10 lakh bales of jute bags for the Rabi Marketing season of 2010-11, the government procurement agencies can use alternate packaging material like polymer bags up to 7.6 lakh bales for packing food grains and  sugar. The dilution was effected by the Centre despite the Jute   Packaging Materials Act of 1987 which provides for mandatory use of jute bags to the extent of 100 per cent for packing of food grains and sugar meant for government procurement. Besides, the 61-day strike meant a wage loss of Rs 480 crore for 2.2 lakh people engaged in the jute mills.
  To make matters worse, the jute industry has suffered a loss of over Rs 900 crore for selling B Twill jute bags under the DGS&D (Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal) account since 2001. Even though the Tariff Commission has submitted its latest report in June 2009, the Union textiles ministry is yet to  implement it as a result of which the industry is compelled to bear a daily loss of Rs 3962 per tonne on B Twill bags sold under DGS&D account. Despite repeated appeals made by the jute industry, the  textiles ministry is sticking to the old and outdated price formula of the Tariff Commission of 2001.
  Sanjay Kajaria, chairman, Indian Jute Mills Association said, “While majority of the pending matters of the trade unions are believed to have cleared with the signing of the tripartite agreement on Friday among the jute industry, trade unions and the West Bengal government, the industry continues to be in distress due to the non-implementation of the Tariff  Commission's report of 2009.” He pointed out that the report needs to be implemented to ensure a reasonable, justified and fair price on government orders for B Twill bags. Source: Business Standard

   Ministry for further dilution of Jute Packaging Materials Act 

   Kolkata, January. 31, 2010: With the deadlock over jute mills still continuing, the Ministry of Textiles has recommended a further dilution of around 3.8 lakh bales in the mandatory Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA) to meet demands of packaging foodgrains. The dilution would allow use of plastics instead of B-Twill jute bags for the Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2010-11, according to Mr Sanjay Kajaria, Chairman, Indian Jute Mills' Association.
  The Ministry had earlier recommended a dilution of about 3.9 lakh bales in the JPMA and now with the present recommendation the quantum of dilution  in JPMA would be to the tune of 78 per cent. The total requirement of jute bags for sacking food grains in 2009-10 is about 10 lakh bales and the industry has been able to supply only about two lakh bales so far during this year.
  The Textile Ministry's recommendation of dilution of around 7.6 lakh bales would push industry towards deep sickness resulting in a loss of about Rs 1,061 crore (at the rate of Rs 43, 000/tonne), Mr Kajaria said. The strike in jute mills has been continuing for over 45 days and several rounds of tripartite meetings between the Labour Minister representing the State Government, jute mill owners and labour union have remained inconclusive. 
  The jute industry, Mr Kajaria said, has already suffered a production loss of over Rs 1,600 crore and workers have lost wages of around Rs 300 crore due to the unwarranted and unilateral strike thrust on the industry. The move violated the decision taken by the Union Cabinet in September  2009 that 100 per cent reservation would continue on jute bags for food grain and sugar packing in jute year 2009–10, he said. The dilution would adversely affect the industry making ways for closure of mills, job losses, production cuts and complete jeopardy, he said.Source: The Hindu Business Line

Jute body seeks 150 acres in Visakhapatnam
   Chennai/ Visakhapatnam January 18, 2010: Andhra Pradesh Jute Development Centre Limited (APJDC), a special purpose vehicle for the promotion of jute park in the state, has sought 150 acres of land from the government in Visakhapatnam district. 
   The AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation has already identified land at Sabbavaram mandal in Vizag district, said BV Rama Rao, vice chairman and managing director, APJDC.Vizag jute park is one of the six parks coming up as part of textile ministry’s decision to promote jute diversified products.
   Once the state government allots land, APJDC will spend Rs 100 crore to provide infrastructure facilities. The Centre would contribute Rs 40 crore, he said. Upon completion, the park would attract investments worth Rs 500 crore. The state government would supply power at a subsidised rate of 70 paise per unit, reimburse stamp duty on land registration and offer a three percent rebate on interest on loans, he added.
   APJDC will provide six months’ training in the production of jute diversified products to prospective entrepreneurs and facilitate financial assistance through banks, arrange to supply raw material and help in marketing of finished products both in India and abroad, he said. Source: Business Standard




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