Centre asks Bengal to take steps for protecting jute sector

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Kolkata, Oct 19: The Centre has asked the West Bengal government to take measures, including promoting use of geo-textiles in construction activities and ensuring strict compliance of Jute Packaging Act, to protect its ailing jute industry where lakhs of people are employed.

The Union Textile Ministry recently wrote a letter to state chief secretary Sanjay Mitra in this regard. The jute industry in the state is grappling with demand slump leading to production cut and even mill closures, sources told PTI.

Out of 84 jute mills in India, 64 are in West Bengal. Bengal mills are running at only 60 per cent of their capacity and about one lakh workers are rendered jobless, according to Indian Jute Mills Association Former Chairman and jute industry veteran Sanjay Kajria.

The Texile Ministry has asked the state government to use geo-textiles in construction activities, vigilance for compliance of Jute Packaging Act for packaging of paddy in the state and encouraging packing potatoes into jute bags. Jute in the form of Jute Geotextiles (JGT) are used in road construction and is widely perceived to be a green alternative to synthetic geo-textiles.

The ministry has complained that most of the rice mills were not adhering to the Jute Packaging Act to pack 90 per cent of rice in jute. If this was implemented, the jute industry would receive an additional demand of three lakh bales B-Twill sacking. The letter also encourages the state government to replace plastic bags for potato packaging in cold storages with jute that will help increase demand for 50,000 MT of hessian bags.

Advocating use of geo-textiles, the Centre has said that these could be used in road construction and river bank protection to create additional demand.


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