Bengalâ€™s jute industry once the backbone of the state is currently under worst crisis created mainly by enemies from within. Some of the mill owners were illegally importing cheap jute bags from Bangladesh and Nepal, thereby defeating the very purpose of the Centreâ€™s â€˜incentivesâ€™ to jute growers and protection to the industry by way of fixed raw jute price and guaranteed jute bags procurement quota for mills, Jut Commission Subrata Gupta opined.
Early this month, the Jute Commissionerâ€™s office after a surprise raid seized huge quantity of jute bags worth several crore of Rupees from two warehouses in Howrah is also a clear proof of the modus operandi of some of the unscrupulous mill owners are resorting to for making some quick bucks though sealing the industryâ€™s future.
The bags were being siphoned off illegally for sale in the â€˜openâ€™ market, confirmed an official. Incidentally, Jute Commissioner, Subrata Gupta, who had prior knowledge of such malpractices being adopted by a section of mill owners clarified that jute bags procured by the Union government are compulsorily marked and stamped by mills concerned before dispatch.
Some mills and raw jute dealers have also been caught â€˜red-handedâ€™, hoarding jute for speculative purposes and in order to artificially jack up price and create scarcity. While dealers are not permitted to stock up more than 1700 quintals, mills are allowed to store up requirements for two months only.
As for records, about 40 lakh families are engaged in jute cultivation across Bengal, the stateâ€™s annual raw jute production totals 75 lakh bales out of the countryâ€™s aggregate of 100 lakh bales.
Its mills (nearly 60) employing over 2.5 lakh workers account for 90 per cent (12.5 lakh tonnes) jute goods manufactured in India. The Centre and its agencies (including FCI) procure 65 per cent of the jute bags manufactured by Bengalâ€™s mills, in compliance with its policy of compulsory jute materials packaging for 90 per cent of food grains and 20 per cent of sugar.
Meanwhile, state government can no longer sit tight over Guptaâ€™s proposals for saving chronically sick jute industry from mounting onslaughts by hordes of â€˜fly-by-nightâ€™ operators.
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