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 West Bengal CM, Left oppose jute packaging Act dilution

Kolkata , December 23, 2014: The Centre's proposed dilution and phasing out of Jute Packaging Materials Act has drawn united opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the CPI(M), as it would have severe impact on three lakh workers and 40 lakh jute farmers.

Banerjee in a recent letter to Union Textile Minister Santosh K Gangwar had said, "I believe that... the reserved percentage of jute packaging material is about to be drastically reduced and phased out altogether."

Further, the step will suck Rs 8,000 crore out of the economy of which Rs 3,000 crore is by way of wages and Rs 5,000 crore as value of raw jute industry buys from farmers, the letter said.

"I would request that cental government should not go ahead with the proposed reduction of reservation of jute packaging," the chief minister said in the letter. A Union finance ministry note in November has recommended dilution and finally phase-out of the Act within next two years.  The step would jeopardise lives and liviohood of lakhs of families in West Bengal and jute related states, she apprehended.

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP and CITU general secretary Tapan K Sen said they are totally against the proposed dilution. He told PTI that opposing the Centre's move he had already raised the jute industry crisis in the Upper House on December 9.

Sen said he highlighted the livelihood involved with the industry and pointed out that already with the current level of dilution, farmers are facing deep trouble. "The industry had cut the production level and due to this daily deployment of workers is about 15,0000 only, explaining the depth of the crisis.

"The situation is also affecting the jute growers as they are compelled to make distress sale of their jute produce at Rs 1,600 per quintal although the minimum support price is Rs 2,400 per quintal," Sen said. Source: PTI
 

Move to completely phase-out jute packaging will hit 40 lakh families 

 
New Delhi, December 12, The Government’s reported move to "completely phase out" the Jute Packaging Materials Act 1987, will have “destructive impact” on the jute industry spread over five States, affecting about 40 lakh workers, growers and their families, Tapan Sen, Rajya Sabha MP from CPI(M) has said.

In a letter to Textiles Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Sen urged the Government to reconsider its decision, adding that phasing out of jute for packaging food grains by bringing it down to 70 per cent in the first instance and to zero in the process of next two/three years, and exempting sugar packaging from the Act will sound the death knell for the industry.

Referring to this decision reportedly taken in a meeting of ‘Group of Officers held on October 16, based on directional observation of Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, and conveyed to the Ministry of Textiles on November 11, Sen, who is also general secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said, “The biggest irony is that the meeting of the so-called stakeholders has not included the biggest stakeholder, those who depend for their human survival on this industry, the workers and the jute growers.”

Pointing out that the biggest beneficiary of such a move would be the synthetic packaging lobby, both domestic and foreign, Sen said at present the labour-intensive jute industry has a total installed capacity of around 29,000 sacking looms, which produce around 20.5 lakh tonnes of jute sacks based on three-shift work. Out of this, domestic consumption (other than supply under JPM Act) is around 2.4 lakh tonnes; export of Indian jute sacks ranges from 80,000 to one lakh tonnes on an average, leaving 17 lakh tonnes of sacks that remain un-channelised, he added.

Also, scaling down of jute sack production is directly affecting jute growers by way of the sharp decline in procurement with appropriate support price, aggravated by the dilution of reservation under JPM Act since 2009-10 for packaging of foodgrains and sugar.  Sen also requested the Minister to ensure that duty-free import of jute sacks from Bangladesh (around 1.45 lakh tonnes annually) is stopped through anti-dumping measures. Source: thehindubusinessline.com


Jute mill shut, 4,500 workers lose jobs

 
/font> BHADRESWAR, Oct 30, 2014: Only two days before the Jagadhhatri Puja, the biggest festival in the Chandannagore belt of Hooghly, around 4,500 workers of Angus Jute Mill lost their jobs on Monday.

The mill, located at Bhadreswar in Chandannagore subdivision, witnessed labour unrest since morning and the management, later in the day, slapped a suspension of work notice at the gate. The management had declared suspension of work on November 14 last year which was lifted by December 1.

The genesis of the trouble lies in the management's decision to transfer 15 workers from the preparing department to its batching department on Sunday. In protest, workers did not report for work on Monday. The management responded to this by hanging a suspension of work notice outside the mill's main gate around 11 am.

On hearing about the notice, workers gathered outside the gate and started an agitation. Bhadreswar OC Debnath Sadhuka led a large force to the mill to bring the situation under control.

  

Union commerce minister promises jute industry revival

  
KOLKATA, October 13, 2014:: Union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assured Indian Jute Mills' Association that her ministry will look into the issue of rampant import of cheap jute products from Bangladesh, which is severely affecting the prospects of jute industry in West Bengal.

Sitharaman and minister of state for textiles Santosh Gangwar had a three-hour-long meeting with all the stakeholders of jute industry, including the jute mills' association, various labour unions, research institutes and export agencies.

Sitharaman said that the meeting was organized to take stock of the situation of the jute industry, adding that the Centre would take the necessary steps for revival of the golden fibre. Chairman of the Indian Jute Mills' Association Raghabendra Gupta told newspersons after the meeting that the Centre was planning a new policy framework for the industry.

The apex jute body has also apprised the minister about the industry's order position. "The order position is really bad. There has been a production cut of 30% to 40% in the last few months because of lack of order. Cheap import of jute bags and yarn from Bangladesh worsened the situation. There is an export subsidy on jute in Bangladesh, which we do not have," he added.

Gupta said that the quantum of jute import from Bangladesh was around 2 lakh tonne every year, which was almost 15% of the total demand of jute products. "This is a real problem and we have sought a countervailing duty on jute products imported from Bangladesh. The Centre will look into this," he added.

Five jute mills have been closed because of lack of orders, while many more may be forced to down their shutters in the near future if the order situation does not improve. There are 64 jute mills in West Bengal, of which 33 are members of the jute mills' association. The jute mills have the capacity to produce16 lakh tonnes of jute products every year.

"More than one lakh jute workers did not have anything to do for the last few months because of lack of orders," Gupta added. Source: The Times of India


  Six Jute Mills Close in a Week in West Bengal
   
  KOLKATA, June 22, 2014: Suspension of work has been declared in yet another jute mill in West Bengal citing labour unrest, which took their number to six following the lynching of a mill CEO in Hooghly district on June 15.

Suspension of work was declared at the Victoria jute mill at Telenipara in Hooghly district last night following 'labour unrest', district police sources said. 

The suspension of work was declared after the finishing department of the mill stopped work when 10 workers were suspended for taking a worker who fell ill to hospital, the sources said.

Labour Minister Purnendu Bose said the management of the mill was asked to attend a tripartite meeting on Tuesday on reopening of the mill. 

This was the sixth jute mill to declare suspension of work following the killing of HK Maheswari, CEO of Northbrook Jute Mill at Bhadreswar in Hooghly district, Sanjay Kajaria, a veteran in the state's jute industry and former chairman of the Indian Jute Mills Association told PTI here.

The other such jute mills where suspension of work was declared were Hanuman jute mill in Howrah district on June 17, Auckland and New Central jute mills in North 24 Parganas district on June 17, Weaverly Jutemills also in North 24 Parganas district on June 18.

According to an IJMA estimate, around 30,000 workers in the industry were jobless at present out of a total workforce of 2.5 lakh. Sourc PTI

Jute Mill CEO Beaten to Death by Workers in West Bengal

  
Chinsurah, West Benga, June 16, 2014: HK Maheswari, CEO of North Brook Jute Mill, was beaten up by workers of the factory when he rejected their demand for an increase in the weekly working hours so that they are paid more, Hooghly Superintendent of Police (SP) Sunil Chowdhury said. 
  The SP said that the workers met Maheswari at 11 am in his chamber and demanded that the weekly working hours be increased to 40 from the present 25, besides submitting a list of other demands.
  The CEO's refusal to meet the workers' demands led to an altercation and the workers assaulted Mr Maheswari. The CEO, who suffered serious injuries, was taken to a private nursing home where he succumbed this afternoon, SP Chowdhury said. Source: NDTV

   Dry spell adds to woes of jute growers in West Bengal
 
 
Jalpaiguri , May 9, 2014 (ANI): A dry spell has affected lands under jute cultivation in Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal and a lack of effective government intervention is leaving jute growers worried and in for huge losses. This year, inadequate rainfall has left most jute farm lands dry and hampered the sowing of jute fiber plants According to farmers, more than 40 percent of jute crops have been damaged due to no rain.

The farmers also claimed that they have been provided no help from the government despite the alarming situation.

"Rainfall has been very less. We are facing torture from the government and from the nature. How will we survive, the government is not paying heed to our problems, even the cost of fertiliser is too much," said a farmer in Jalpaiguri district, Bijaya.

According to the weather department, last year Jalpaiguri district received 167.4 mm rainfall but this year it was only 7.6 mm of rainfall.

More than two lakh (200,000) people in the district are directly engaged in the jute industry.

The jute production in north Bengal is an ancient old agro-based industry.

The industry has been active since before the partition and jute being a cash crop had been a contributing factor to the economy as a whole for the north Bengal.

The districts of Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Malda are the main regions for jute cultivation in north Bengal.

The climatic conditions are usually favourable in this region for jute sowing. Though the industry has not accelerated at the pace expected, it has contributed to the livelihood of many in the region. - ANI


   Genetically modified jute to come up for GEAC nod

  Mumbai, April 17, 2014: “GM jute is ready. The university is set to apply to the GEAC in a month,” said Swapan K Datta, deputy director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), on the sidelines of a round-table on ‘Addressing challenges of food security’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry .

Farmers expect that the success of GM cotton will be replicated in jute.“With jute being a non-food crop, GEAC should not have any problem in approving it. The regulator has concerns only on food items,” Datta said.

Almost 30 per cent of the 250 million tonnes of foodgrains produced annually are packed in jute bags worth around Rs 6,000 crore.

Around 40 per cent of the jute bags produced are purchased by the Union food ministry   through the Food
Corporation of India, on behalf of different state food procuring agencies.

The country’s jute sector manufactures around 1.2 million tonnes of bags in a year. The installed capacity stands at nearly 1.5 million tonnes. Source: Business Standard 

  India to help develop textile, jute sectors 
  
Dhaka, March 24, 2014: The Indian government has agreed to extend technical cooperation to Bangladesh in the textile and jute sectors.

"India has committed to provide technical assistance for improvement of our textiles and jute sectors," a senior official told the FE Thursday after the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) for cooperation in the textiles sector between Bangladesh and India held in Dhaka.

The meeting discussed different issues including import of raw cotton from India and keeping functional the International Jute Study Group (IJSG), established under the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the term of which expires on April 26 this year.

At the meeting a 17-member Bangladeshi delegation was led by Shamsul Kibria, joint secretary of the ministry of textiles and jute while Sujit Gulati, joint secretary of the Indian textiles ministry, led the six-member Indian team. 

"We've agreed to continue the functions of IJSG but modality is yet to be finalised," the official explained. Talking to the FE, Feroz Ahmed, secretary general of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), said the BTMA members were interested to import 2.0 million bales of raw cotton from India under a special arrangement to avert any unwanted situation in future.

The Indian government earlier promised to supply up to 2.0 million bales of raw cotton to Bangladesh in the 2013-14 cotton season, starting in October, even if a ban was imposed on such commodity export.

"The commerce ministries of both the countries are now working in this contention," the official said while replying to a query relating to the raw cotton import from India.

He also said the JWC was now working to develop collaborations between the textile institutions of the two countries such as the skill building institutions, fashion institutes and research institutions.

"We expected that the next meeting of JWG will be held by the end of this calendar year in New Delhi," he noted.

Bangladesh and India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the textiles sector in New Delhi in August 2013 aiming to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries.

The MoU on textiles sector collaboration is a major trade facilitation mechanism and provides for collaboration in various areas such as fashion technology, skill exchange and productivity enhancement; collaboration for upgrading and enhancing production efficiency, management techniques and technical collaboration in development of textiles.

Later, a JWC on textiles was formed as an institutional collaboration mechanism for speedy implementation of the MoU. Source: www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com

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