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   Jute output set to dip as demand takes a plunge
Kolkata December 31, 2012: The jute industry, concentrated in West Bengal, is facing a number of problems, ranging from low demand and low production to the forthcoming termination of an agreement between key players in the industry. Raw jute production in 2012-13 is pegged at 9.2 million bales, much below last year's production of 9.9 million bales. However, in spite of the low production, prices are likely to remain subdued, owing to high carry-over stock and low demand.
  "At present, the carry-over stock in jute mills is close to four million bales, which, along with the current year's production of 9.2 million bales, would be sufficient to meet the whole year's demand," said Manish Poddar , chairman, Indian Jute Mills' Association. Currently, raw jute prices (TD5 variety) are hovering at about Rs 2,500 a quintal, against Rs 2,300 a quintal at the end of November. The prices have been more or less stable due to the low demand from sugar mills, say mill owners. This year, for the first time, the government had diluted packaging norms under the mandatory Jute Packaging Materials Act ( JPMA of 1987.)
   The Act mandated sugar mills to use only jute bags for packing sugar. However, with jute mills often failing to meet the demand from sugar mills on time, and the availability of cheaper substitutes of packaging material in the plastics industry, the packaging norms were diluted in favour of sugar mills. "We are getting absolutely no orders from sugar mills. Our efforts are on to offset the losses by increasing the share of exports and supplying jute bags for food grain packaging," said Poddar.
The government had increased the minimum support price ( MSP of raw jute of the TD-5 grade) from Rs 1,675 a quintal to Rs 2,200 a quintal for the 2012-2013 season, an increase of about 31.34 per cent over last year's MSP. Even as jute mills are struggling to generate demand, the termination of the tripartite agreement, signed between the government of West Bengal and mill owners and workers in February, poses a threat of another stalemate in the industry.
   Representatives of about 20 jute mill workers? associations recently met in Kolkata to deliberate on a fresh charter of demand. The next meeting, scheduled for January, is expected to spell the new demands of the workers.The demands may include minimum wages of Rs 10,000 a month and reinforcement of the JPMA Act, said Citu sources. Source: Business Standard

   TMC and the Left protest dilution of Jute Packaging Act in Lok Sabha
New Delhi, December 19, 2012: Arch rivals TMC and the Left today joined hands in Lok Sabha to protest dilution of an Act to protect the jute industry even as the government said it was doing its best to protect the interests of those involved in the sector. The government also rejected charges that plastic bags were being encouraged for packaging sugar and food grains. "We as government are committed to protect the (interests) of jute growers... The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for raw jute has been increased this year by 32 per cent to Rs 2,200 per quintal compared to last year," Textiles Minister Anand Sharma said in reply to a calling attention motion. The motion on situation arising out of dilution of Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use) Act 1987, was moved by Saugata Roy (TMC) and Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) who accused the government of diluting the use of jute bags in packaging sugar and food grains. Emphasising that jute is a vital industry for West Bengal, Roy said the government has diluted the Act under pressure from the synthetic (packaging) and sugar lobbies.
   Roy urged the government to "take back the order (diluting the Act) and save the jute industry". He said, besides West Bengal, jute industry is active in Bihar, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh. Raising the issue, Acharia said the government's move would adversely impact over three lakh workers in the jute industry apart from hitting over 40 lakh farmers engaged in jute farming. Sharma's reply on the issue was marred by verbal duel between the Treasury benches and members of all Left parties as well as TMC.
   Newly inducted minister from West Bengal Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Cong) came strongly in support of Sharma and claimed that charges levelled by Opposition members were baseless.Not satisfied with reply of the Minister, some members of the Left parties, including Acharia, staged a walkout. 

  Fire at Company's Unit at Birla Jute Mills, Birlapur
Birlapur, December 4, 2012: Birla Corporation Ltd has informed BSE that a fire has broken out in Twisting & S4A loom section of the Company''s Unit at Birla Jute Mills, Birlapur, at about 4.30 a.m. on December 03, 2012, which has been brought under control. The Production in other sections of the Mill is continuing normally. The loss on account of the fire is covered under insurance. Source: Moneycontrol
  Fire breaks out in Jute godown

  Kishanganj, November 20, 2012: A fire broke out on Monday in a jute go-down in Sonathaghat village in Bihar's Kishanganj district gutting raw materials estimated at around Rs eight lakhs, police said. The cause of the fire was under investigation, police said. The total area of Kishanganj is 1,884 sqkm and Jute is abundantly grown in Kishanganj. Will this mishap effect the jute industry of india? Fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flame, he said. Source: Samay Live

 Raw jute prices may drop on eased packaging norms
Kolkata, November 14, 2012: Raw jute prices, which have come down by Rs 150/quintal over the last one month, might inch down further on account of subdued demand and poor sentiments. Price of raw jute which was hovering around Rs 2,750 a month ago, has now come down to Rs 2,600. The fall in prices is on account of a weak demand particularly from the sugar industry.
   “There has been practically no demand for jute bags for packaging from the sugar industry so far,” said Manish Poddar, chairman, Indian Jute Mills’ Association. Typically close to 40 per cent of the sugar industry’s total demand for packaging comes in by this time of the year. “Price of raw jute will depend on how the demand situation is,” he added. The Cabinet’s recent nod for 60 per cent dilution in the mandatory Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA) of 1987 for packing sugar and 10 per cent dilution for packing food grains in 2012-13 has affected the sentiments, said a senior official in the jute industry. 
  The JPMA directs all sugar factories to use jute bags for packing sugar to the extent of 100 per cent. “Fluctuating market tendency continues, though arrival is poor to average. Previously it was presumed that market may get steady after this month. But the present situation leads to some sort of uncertainty in the consumption level. If the consumption level falls subsequently due to dilution, it will have some impact on the price situation,” the official said. The jute industry is estimated to suffer a blow of nearly Rs 1,500 crore
on account of the dilution. According to Subrata Gupta, Jute Commissioner, the dilution has been announced keeping in mind the demand-supply situation and will not impact the industry.
   The total requirement for rabi marketing season stands at 18 lakh bales (of 180 kg) and the jute industry might find it difficult to meet this demand even if it operates at 100 per cent capacity, he said. “With bag requirement firming up we expect prices to remain stable,” he added.  

   Fire breaks out at jute godown
Araria, November 06, 2012 (PTI): A major fire broke out today in a jute godown in Forbesganj town of  Bihar's Araria district gutting raw materials worth about Rs 30 lakh, an official said. Three fire-tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Vikas Kuamr said. It was not immediately clear as to how the fire broke out in the godown, he said adding an investigation was going on.There was no casualty or injury to any one in the blaze, Kumar said.  
  Jute mill gutted in Kanpur fire

   Lucknow, October 29, 2012 (IANS): The massive fire that broke out in the JK Jute Mill in Kanpur in the early hours of Sunday was doused after a 12-hour-long firefighting operation. Property and material worth crores was gutted, though no one was injured as the mill was closed for a two-day break on account of Eid ul Azha and Sunday. At least 17 fire tenders fought the blaze for 12 hours before putting it out. Fire department officials told IANS that the matting, knitting and sizing wings had been completely gutted. The roof of the one the wings caved in, and machines in the mill were burnt, officials said.
  Though an exact estimate of the losses because of the fire would be known only when the management visits mill premises later on Monday, firemen fear that not much remains in the wings that bore the brunt of the blaze. More than 2,200 workers face an uncertain future. The management has sought extra police presence near the mill Monday, fearing that labourers might turn violent as they face unemployment for a while. Source: Indo-Asian News Service
Birla Jute Mills reopens after 7-month hiatus
  Kolkata, October 19: Birla Jute Mills, a unit of M. P. Birla group company Birla Corporation Ltd, resumed operations on Thursday after more than seven months of ‘suspension of work’. Birla Corp announced on Thursday that it would reopen the facility after a “settlement” was reached with workers on Tuesday. The company management agreed to redeploy some 500 workers, rendered surplus in the spinning and weaving divisions.
  Trade union and jute industry sources said the jute mill employed around 7,000 workers, including about 1,500 casual labourers. Work in the mill, located at Birlapur, some 21 km southwest of the city on the east bank of the Hooghly river, had been suspended since March 31 this year. According to the company statement to the stock exchanges, after a tripartite settlement with the trade unions on October 16, the decision on lifting of suspension of work was taken.
  The mill is one of the oldest jute goods making outfits in the State. Commissioned in 1919, the mill in 2011-12 produced 35,521 tonnes of jute products .Birla Corporation declared a ‘lay-off’ on August 28 at the Auto Trim Division at the Birlapur complex “on account of lack of orders”. The unit, which produces items for car interiors, employed around 85 workers. “All the employees currently are drawing half pay,” the INTUC leader said. Source:

   Exhibition of Jute products by South India Jute Association
Chennai, October 4, 2012: South India Jute Association (SIJA) organises the Navaratri Jute Fair. On display are a range of jute products such as hand bags, office bags, shopping bags, travel bags, jewellery, slippers, stationery, clothes and more. SIJA has members from all the Southern states. The exhibition was inaugurated on October 4 at 5 p.m. The venue is Vijayaraja Thirumana Mandapam, No. 58, First Avenue Road, Sasthri Nagar, Adyar. 
  Bengali handicrafts fair at Dilli Haat
New Delhi, September 24, 2012 (PTI): Aiming to promote the rich culture of the state, the West Bengal government organised a first-of-its-kind exhibition of handicrafts at the Dilli Haat here. Handicrafts and handloom items being sold at the ongoing fair have got registration under Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, including `nakshi kantha` (traditional needle craft) and embossed leather of Shantiniketan.Geographical Indication is a sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location and conforms to a defined quality standard.
   "A total of 32 artisans and weavers from various districts of West Bengal, including Murshidabad, Bankura, Bardhaman, Kolkata, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and Birbhum, are participating in the exposition at Dilli Haat," a statement said, adding, it would bring commercial benefits to the artisans before the festive season. The exhibition, part of `Banglar Taant` being organised in Kolkata, will end on September 30. For the first time, environment-friendly jute packaging of the wares are being promoted in consonant with the Delhi government's policy to reduce plastic bags.
  "Diversified jute and jute-cotton products herald a big future for the innovative packaging industry. Two self-help groups from North 24-Parganas have brought to the exhibition a customised product using golden fibre jute, largely grown in West Bengal," the statement said. Visitors can also enjoy a unique cultural soiree with Rabindra sangeet, Nazrul geeti and dance performances bringing out the rhythm and tunes of Bengal on September 28.In keeping with the pre-puja festive spirit, culinary delights including Bengali street food will be available at the fair venue, the statement said.- PTI

  West Bengal Auckland Jute Mills to get its first solar power plant

  KOLKATA, September 21, 2012: Vikram Solar, a Kolkata based leading solar module manufacturing company has been entrusted with the installation and commissioning of 1 MW roof top grid Connected Captive Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant at Auckland Jute Mills in West Bengal. "Aradhana Investments Ltd" has proposed to setup the project on the roof top of "Auckland Jute Mills", both being unit of "Kankaria Group". The project division of Vikram Solar will implement the project as Engineering-Procurement-Construction contractor. The 1 MW Roof top Grid Connected Captive Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant has been recommended to be implemented under Renewable Energy Certificate Mechanism (REC). This will be West Bengal's first solar power plant under REC Mechanism.
   Auckland Jute Mills Pvt Ltd is situated at Jagatdal, Shyamnagar Township, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. The proposed project site is situated on the banks of river Ganges and is well connected by roadways and is 2-3 km away from Shyamnagar Railway station. The rooftop of the factory building of the Jute Mill has been identified for installation of proposed Solar Photovoltaic Power plant covering an area of more than 4 lakh sq. ft. The proposed Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant will generate DC power from Solar PV power plant. Smart grid tied inverters shall convert this DC power to conventional 3 phase AC power. The AC power shall be further stepped up to high voltage and fed through transformers to utility grid and evacuate through Auckland Jute Mill's own 3.3 kV substation to the nearest Bhatpara Township Substation, which is situated approximately less than 1KM away from the factory toward south. 
 Source: Times of India

   India declines to import jute bags from Bangladesh, Nepal
Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar Septmber 06, 2012: The Government of India has turned down proposals from Nepal and Bangladesh to supply gunny bags in 2012-13 for packing sugar and food grains. The Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA)-1987, a Central legislation, provides for 100 per cent mandatory reservation for jute bags for packaging of sugar and food grains. Since both sugar and food grains are under the reserved sector, the Union law ministry has expressed reservations over import of gunny bags from Nepal and Bangladesh. According to law ministry, there are serious technical, legal, supply and policy problems in allowing import of jute bags from Nepal. The law ministry, however, has allowed such imports in the unreserved sectors other than food grains and sugar.
Moreover, jute bag prices in India are fixed on a price formula of the
  Tariff Commission of 2001 and procured by Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal (DGSD) or through National Competitive Bidding (NCB). DGSD has no jurisdiction on inspecting quality of jute bags in Nepal or Bangladesh. Says Manish Poddar, chairman, Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA),  "There was a proposal for import of gunny bags from Nepal and Bangladesh but it has been struck down by the Centre. In any case, the domestic jute industry is more than self-sufficient and is in a position to meet the requirement of packing sugar and food grains."  While one million tonnes of jute sacks are needed to pack food grains, 0.2 million are necessary for packing sugar. The jute industry has the capacity to churn out 1.5 million tonnes of sacks and sacking capacity is almost 0.55 million tonnes higher than peak government demand. Source: Business Standard 

  Jute bag makers losing Rs 200 cr every year on outdated pricing formula
Bhubaneswar August 28, 2012: Jute bag manufacturers are losing over Rs 200 crore every year due to non-revision of an 11-year-old pricing formula of the Tariff Commission. Adding to the woes of the ailing jute industry is the recent decision of the Jute  Commissioner's  office to strike down the industry's demand for revising jute bag prices a move that is bound to affect all 55 working jute mills in West Bengal. "All jute bag manufacturers in West Bengal are running into losses because of the obsolete pricing formula and our mill is losing around Rs 5,000 a tonne. If jute bag prices are not revised, it will only push the industry into further sickness," said Sanjay Kajaria, owner of Hastings Jute Mill and former chairman, Indian Jute Mills Association (Ijma). "The jute industry is supported by the government but it seems the government is not willing to revise jute bag prices. The industry has already approached both the Central and state governments, but our concerns have not been addressed". Jute bag price, which is currently at Rs 55,979 a tonne, is determined as per Tariff Commission?s price formula of 2001.
   "Obviously, we are making losses. On two earlier occasions, the Union textiles ministry has rejected the push for price revision. But, the industry should not lose hope as a new study is under way. The study is being done by the Tariff Commission. Once it is done, the recommendations will be submitted to the Union ministry of textiles, which will take a call on revising jute bag prices," said Manish Poddar, chairman Ijma, who owns the Budge Budge jute mill. The jute industry is protected under a central legislation, the Jute Packaging Materials Act, 1987, that provides for mandatory packaging of sugar and foodgrain in jute bags by procurement agencies to an extent of 100 per cent.
   On the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, the Union ministry of textiles recommended a formula change to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). According to the JC office, there is no requirement of a price revision at this stage. According to the estimates of the JC office, wage cost has reduced by Rs 1,596 a tonne and hence, current prices of jute bags are remunerative. Data from the JC office reveals that to produce one tonne of jute bags, 38.32 man days are needed. The price calculation is based on the productivity norms of the erstwhile Jute Manufacturers  Develo-pment Council which had estimated that 42.9 man days were needed to produce a tonne of jute bags. Moreover, data furnished by 13 jute mills showed that on an average, 40 persons are required to produce a tonne of jute bags. The industry, however, holds the Tariff Commission's formula of 2001 as obsolete.
   It may be noted that on February 9, 2011, the Union ministry of textiles had instructed the JC office to recalculate the fixed price components of the 2001 Tariff Commission Report, linking it to inflation. The Central government had earlier set aside a revised report of the Tariff Commission submitted in June 2009 as it was allegedly found to be manipulated.
   A section of the industry has already moved the court against the government for non-implementation of the Tariff Commission's price
formula of 2009. The JC office had carried out the revised calculation on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) series of 1981-82, 1993-94 and 2004-05, gathered from the Economic Adviser?s office of the Union commerce ministry. Source: Business Standard

   Despite improving monsoon, worry continues for most crops
New Delhi Aug 13, 2012: As the kharif sowing season exceeds two months, no crop has managed to reach the normal area of cultivation (average of the past five years), except for sugarcane, cotton and jute. Though officials said paddy in the eastern parts, and coarse cereals and pulses in other areas, could be sown till August-end, experts believe their output could also be impacted if rains start withdrawing early because of the El Niño effect, the periodic climatic pattern which disrupts normal weather. Its impact is feared this year. "The problem will be for late-sown crops, if withdrawal starts early due to El Niño. Then, these crops will not have adequate moisture to sustain growth," said Ashok Gulati, chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
  He said if El Niño kicked in around August 15, with the southwest monsoon withdrawing as usual from the first week of September, late-sown crops will be in trouble.Source:Business Standard

  Woven sacks units expect demand surge if JPMA is abolished
Mumbai/ Ahmedabad August 03, 2012:If the recently mooted proposal of abolishing the Jute Packaging Material Act (JPMA) comes through, with the highest number of woven sacks units in the state, Gujarat is likely to benefit the most. State based polymer processors expect at least a 25 per cent surge in demand for packaging material.
   Gujarat houses more than 2750 small and medium woven sacks units, contributing to around 55 per cent of all India production of woven sacks, Mahavir Khatang, president, Gujarat State Plastic Manufacturers Association (GSPMA) informed. The JPMA of 1987 makes packaging of foodgrains and sugar compulsory in jute bags. The Act had come in to provide some temporary relief to the ailing jute industry. Initially, even cement and fertilizer were to be packed in jute bags. These two commodities, however, were later taken out of the JPMA's ambit. Subsequently, the Act was also relaxed from time to time to allow partial packaging in polymer. Currently, around 10-15 per cent of foodgrain can be packed in polymer.
   At present, around a million tonne of jute sacks are needed to pack foodgrain and another 200,000 tonnes of jute sacks are required for packing sugar. State based HDPE (High-density polyethylene) and PP ( Polypropylene ) bag makers claimed that the jute industry does not have sufficient capacity to provide packaging material for such a huge requirement.
   Gujarat currently makes six million tonnes of woven sacks every year, informed Jigish Doshi, chairman and managing director of Ahmedabad based Vishakha Group. If the JPMA is abolished, as proposed by the department of petrochemicals of the Union government, the demand for woven sacks would rise many times, thus putting pressure on raw material manufacturers, feels Atul Kanuga, a senior official of the GSPMA. The department of petrochemicals has cited several field trials conducted in various parts of country to establish the fact that polymer grade sacks are better in quality compared to jute sacks, and they are also a cheaper substitute. Apart from Gujarat, states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are among the major manufacturers of woven sacks. Gujarat alone, however, contributes around 55 per cent of the total production. Major belts that house woven sacks manufacturers in the state include Ahmedabad, Saurashtra, Vadodara, Halol,Bhavnagar and Vapi. Source: Business Standard 

  LF asks state govt to announce minimum support price for jute

   Kolkata, July 21 (PTI) The opposition Left Front today urged the West Bengal government to immediately announce the minimum support price for jute in accordance with the recommendations of the M S Swaminathan Commission. CPI(M) leader Anisur Rehman who led a six-member Left Front delegation to Agriculture minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya said that they demanded that the state government and Jute Corporation of India should be involved in jute procurement as middlemen had become active following drop in price. He said that jute farmers were affected in south Bengal due to scanty rain causing a drop in production and growers were not getting the support price. The CPI(M) leader said that they also urged the state government to take up with the Centre the issues of price rise of diesel, fertiliser and seeds in the interest of farmers and convert their short-term bank loan to long-term. 
  The Front delegation also called for steps to curb black-marketing of essential commodities and ensure alternative agriculture in areas hit by scanty rainfall. Rehman said that the Agriculture minister assured to look into their demands and that the chief minister had already formed a task force to tackle price rise of vegetables and essential commodities. 

   Sacks in shortage, but Centre frets over TMC opposition

   New Delhi, July 10, 2012(DHNS): With the country facing shortage of jute bags to store rice in the coming procurement season, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre is in a piquant situation whether to import from neighbouring Bangladesh or use plastic sacking to meet the shortage. The Centre is wary of taking any decision on this issue as the West Bengal government has already raised a red flag for import of jute bags or using plastic bags. 
   While anticipating problems, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V  Thomas in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, requested them to address the issue at the earliest. According to Thomas, in the coming rice procurement season beginning from October, there will be shortage of around 3.5 lakh bales of gunny bags. As the West Bengal jute industries are unable to produce that much the government has two options either to import from Bangladesh or use high density polythene bag. However, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which procures rice from farmers, prefers jute to plastic bags as labourers finds it is easy to use hooks while loading and unloading. Last November, the FCI  was forced to buy plastic in Madhya Pradesh for
storing wheat which was opposed by the West Bengal government.
  Bangladesh, which is the only other country with a major jute industry, has offered to export jute bags to fill the shortfall. But Indian
officials have turned down the offer as the jute law is meant to protect only Indian producers and farmers. The Centre in the 1980s passed a law stipulating that 100 per cent of the annual wheat and rice crop must be packed in jute bags. The move was meant to defend the jobs of 250,000 jute factory workers, and the five million Indian farmers who grow jute. But due to increasing demand of jute sacks, the ageing industry could not meet the demand. Mamata who is becoming more hostile towards the UPA government after the
selection of Mukherjee as the alliance's Presidential candidate has already refused to back several pending proposals including allowing foreign direct investment in retail sector and pension bill.

   Sugar and jute industries at loggerheads
   Mumbai,  July 06,  2012: The apex sugar industry body, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (Isma), has traded charges with its counterpart in the jute sector over the quality of bags for packing. While Isma says jute mills have supplied sub-standard bags for packing sugar, the Indian Jute Mills Association (Ijma) denies this. The issue arose after the centre, under pressure from West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee, mandated (in January) that only jute bags be used for packing agri commodities, including sugar. Isma challenged the decision through a petition in the Patna high court in March.
   A decision has not been issued and the next hearing is on July 25. Isma says the jute bags available do not conform to Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms. While the BIS standard calls for a 650g bag, the average would be 400-450g. This means mills have to add an extra 200-250g of sugar to meet the gross weight requirement of a 50-kg bag. So, they lose a kg for every two quintals of sugar sold, implying a total loss of 125,000 tonnes for the 25 million tonnes of sugar produced annually, said Abinash Verma, secretary- general of Isma.  Also, he contends, jute bags have gaps of more than 1.5 cm, allowing heavy leakage of sugar and pilferage in transit. This also allows moisture ingress. The presence of batching oil, used for softening of jute during the manufacturing process, also hits the quality of sugar, beside being harmful to human health, said Verma.
  Other bulk consumers such as manufacturers of beverages, confectionaries, biscuits and sweets, which consume around 60 per cent of India's sugar output have complained about the quality of jute bags, said Verma. He urged the government to allow sugar packing in polypropylene (PP) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags. But a senior official with BIS said the issue had not been raised with it. "No such case has come before the BIS, so far. In case of such a complaint, BIS would enquire only into issues related to IS-marked quality," the official said. Manish Poddar, chairman of the Ijma, rubbished Isma's accusations, and said despite the government's order, sugar mills were packing only 75 per cent of their output in jute bags. They must be forced to put the remaining 25 per cent in jute bag packing, too, he said. Raw jute output has been stagnant at around 11 million bales annually (a bale is 170 kg) in the past five years. On the other hand, the output of foodgrain and sugar has risen substantially in this period, the former by 20 per cent and sugar by 35 per cent. The sugar industry says there is inadequate quantity of jute bags and mills are forced to use PP/HDPE bags for even levy sugar supplies, which are sometimes refused by state agencies. Source: Business Standard 

   West Bengal to have two jute parks by this year

   Kolkata, July 3, 2012 (IANS): West Bengal could have two jute parks, one each in Burdwan and North Dinajpur districts, by the end of 2012, am official said on Monday. "We are expecting that at least by the end of this calendar year, wecould have two jute parks in the state," Jute Commissioner in the central textiles ministry and National Jute Board Secretary Atri Bhattacharya told reporters on the sidelines of an event, organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here. 
   The parks, to be set up at Shaktigarh in Burdwan district and Raniganj in North Dinajpur district, are a part of the four upcoming parks in the country planned by the textile ministry under the Jute Technology Mission. The other two are to be located in Purnea in Bihar and in Silchar in Assam, which are likely to become operational by the end of the current fiscal.
   Under the Jute Technology Mission, the government had introduced a scheme for establishing jute parks in the country. The subsidy available under this scheme for establishment of the jute parks is 40 percent of the eligible cost for setting up common infrastructure in the park(excluding the cost of land), subject to a maximum of Rs.7.5 crore. The initial infrastructural investment in the parks is around Rs.50 crore, Bhattacharya said.

   CCI serves notice to seven jute mills in West Bengal

   Kolkata Jun 29, 2012: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has sent notices to seven jute mills in West Bengal for alleged violation of competition rules. The alleged violation of the Section 3(3) (a) and Section 3(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 pertain to manipulation and rigging of prices by jute mills, creating an imbalance in the packaging market.The jute mills will have to answer the notices before June 30, failing which CCI will take penal action against them. Non-compliance in terms of furnishing of false statements and deliberate omission will also draw stringent action as per provisions of the Competition Act.
  There are 54 operating mills in West Bengal involving livelihood of around 250,000 industrial workers and four million farmers. The jute industry has an annual installed capacity of producing 2.4 million tonnes (mt) of jute goods, but currently produces only 1.6 mt because of lack of demand. CCI recently fined 12 cement companies for violating the Act and had kept the jute industry and state-run Coal India Ltd, the world's largest  coal producer, under its scanner. On June 25, it sent the notices on charges raised by the Indian Sugar Mills Association, the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories and the All India Flat Tape Manufacturers Association against the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) and the Gunny Trades Association (GTA).
   CCI has asked the mills for a compulsory furnishing of details on eight specific queries relating to price, actual transactions, quotations, bulletin displays, sale price and production and material cost, prices of twills (100/50 kg bags) and audited profit and loss accounts of the last three years. These bags are used for packing sugar to the tune of around 200,000 tonnes annually and valued at around Rs 1,500 crore. As per estimates, sugar packaging defaults are in the region of 64 per cent by the 450-odd sugar mills. The government is yet to implement Section 9 of the Jute Packaging Mandatory Act (JPMA), 1987, against sugar mills violating the provision. Under the Section, the violation is a cognizable offence and the police will investigate the matter under the Code for Criminal Procedure. The lobby alleged IJMA and GTA were working closely to cartelise the packaging material market by misusing their dominant position. They have accused the jute organisations for alleged rigging and manipulation of prices in the packaging market.
   Further alleged is that IJMA and GTA are imposing unfair and excessive prices on jute bags, thereby, limiting the technical development of the market. CCI observed ?some substance? in such allegations. IJMA has sought protection against the allegation under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution and Section 62 of the Act and is fighting the charge. By an order issued on April 25, 1996, the Supreme Court held the Jute Packaging Mandatory Act, 1987 valid. As by Article 141, any distinction made on this behalf breaches the law of the land. By Section 62 of the Act, the Commission is also bound to perform within the confines of law and not in derogation to the JPM, Act, 1987. Source: Business Standard

  West Bengal, Assam, Bihar expect huge production boost on rising demand

  Kolkata, June 25, 2012: The centre’s demand and purchase assurance to West Bengal jute units is expected to boost production in the state. Assam, the other leading jute growing state, is already expecting to register record jute production this year, despite floods affecting about 10,000 hectares of cropland. Assam, according its agriculture minister, expects to produce about 300,000 bales of jute this year, compared to 200,000 bales last year,”
  Nilanjan Dey, director, Wishlist Capital, told FC Invest. Jute production in the state is likely to go up compared with last year as per hectare yield has increased greatly this year. As part of its various supportive measures to resolve the problems confronting jute growers/cultivators, the centre launched the jute technology mission (JTM) during the 11th Plan with a total outlay of Rs 355.5 crore. Under the JTM, several schemes are operational under the Mini Mission I, II, III & IV, which benefit jute growers. Mini Mission-I aims to strengthen agriculture research and development in jute to improve yield and quality. 
  Mini Mission-II is targeted towards transferring improved technology and agronomic practices in production and post harvesting phase. Under Mini-Mission-III, market linkage of raw jute is provided in all jute growing states. Mini Mission-IV provides for the modernisation of the jute industry, upgradation of skills and market promotion. National Jute Board and Jute Corpo­ration of India are also working on projects with National Institute of Research on Jute & Allied FibreTechnology (NIRJAFT) and Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (CRIJAF) to develop better jute seeds and to improve agronomical practices for jute cultivation. 

  Vedanta distributes 10,000 jute bags to phase out polythene

  MANSA, June 11, 2012: Working in for environmental protection and reducing the use of polythene bags to minimum levels, Vedanta Inc . company Talwandi Sabo power limited  (TSPL) has distributed 10,000 jute bags to various market committees, business establishments. Mansa DC Amit Dhaka along with Vedanta representatives called upon committees and business establishments to
phase out polythene bags for saving the environmental degradation.  Vedanta and district administration also stressed the need to involve street hawkers and vendors in making them use alternatives to polythene bags by providing them jute bags. DC said we need conscious efforts to save environmental degradation and for this Aam Admi need to be aware about the ill effects of playing with environment. He also called for proposals from industries, NGOs to voluntarily adopt patches of roads for plantation.
  TSPL GM projects Chetan Shrivastav said TSPL is fully committed for environment protection and to ensure it, Vedanta also ensures that contractors abide by clause which mentions the contractor will fully take care of the environment in its operations. TSPL has taken full measures to reduce pollution of upcoming power plant to negligible level through use of latest environment friendly equipment like ESP ( Electro Static Precipitator ) followed by bag filters.  TSPL official Amit Tyagi informed TSPL have started green drive to cover
an area of 120 acres of land for afforestation of large canopy trees. Source: Times of India

   World Environment Day: use of jute bags in Sanjay Gandhi Zoological Park 
   Patna, June 6, 2012: The state government on Tuesday declared the Sanjay Gandhi Zoological Park as polythene and plastic free zone on the occasion of Environment Day. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said there would be strict ban on the use of polythene and plastic materials by visitors inside the park.
  The visitors will also be barred from taking in 'gutkha' and potato chips packets, Sushil Kumar Modi said, adding that the ban on these materials will be extended to VIP localities and other parks in the state depending on the success of this measure. They can make use of jute bags, which can be bought at the entrance by paying the cost of Rs. 2. In addition to the actual cost, they will also have to pay Rs. 5 extra on purchase of water bottles and cold drinks, which would be refunded upon return of the empty bottles, he said.
  As many as 19 lakh people visit the eco-park annually and the environment-friendly measures will ensure cleanliness there. To improve forest cover in Bihar, the state government has set a target of planting 24 crore trees and saplings over the next five years, he said. About 2,000 trees will be cut or trimmed to pave way for smooth landing and take-off of flights from the airport adjacent to the zoological park, he said.  Necessary permission is being obtained from the Eastern Region headquarter of the central forest and environment ministry at Bhubaneshwar in this regard.

   Unsold jute bags stack up, but goernment OKs import

   NEW DELHI, May 19, 2012: Even as the government races against time to procure enough jute bags to store grains in the face of record procurement , gunnysack traders are saddled with massive unsold stocks. A look at the godowns of some traders in the national capital alone shows there is no shortage of jute bags in the country. While the central government has placed an order for four lakh jute bags to be imported from Bangladesh and asked jute mills in West Bengal to increase production, traders in Delhi are staring at losses with stocks running into 20 lakh bags lying unsold. The government has to meet the demand before May-end when procurement is scheduled to officially stop owing to the onset of monsoon.
   Traders blame the government for creating a double crisis in which they claim both the states and the traders are going to suffer. Due to increased procurement of foodgrain by both Food Corporation of India (FCI) and various state governments, the demand for jute bags in the open market has plummeted leading to unsold stocks. "We were not prepared for such a situation. We had ordered jute bags
according to annual requirements of the market. But the government increased direct procurement from farmers manifold at high minimum support price leading to private players like multi-national corporations shying away from buying wheat. This has led to demand for jute bags going down by 20%. We are stranded now," said Rohini-based jute bags trader Dharamvir Agarwal, who alone has a stock of about 10 lakh bags lying in his godown.
  "I have two more consignments ordered from Bangladesh , but I have stopped payment as there is no demand," added Agarwal, who also buys from jute mills in West Bengal. The situation has been skewed because of a bumper harvest and increased procurement .
This year, total food grain production is estimated at 253 million tonne (mt) compared to 232.1 mt last year. Earlier, the FCI and state
government procured only 25-30 % food grains from farmers with private players filling in for the rest. The same figure is now over 50%.
Adding to the problem of traders is the government policy of procuring directly from jute mills or importing from Bangladesh to minimize cost. Now, traders want that government should give them a chance and they will match the prices of jute mills.
  Chairman of Dilli Bardana Vyapari Association, Motilal Agarwal said, "At least at times of crises, the government can procure from us. We have close to 20 lakh bags at the moment. It will not only help the situation but also help us. If the government makes a policy and starts open tenders, we can deliver desired jute products at competitive prices."
  Traders also allege that the shortage of jute bags is artificial and created by plastic lobby which wants the government to make an exception to its 100% jute bag policy in grain procurement and use plastic bags. Source: Times of India 

MPs for greater availability of jute sacks before monsoon
  New Delhi, May 9, 2012 (PTI): Government on Wednesday said it was ready for talks with political parties to find a mechanism to solve food grain storage problem as members in Lok Sabha cutting across party lines pitched for greater availability of jute sacks for states to protect wheat ahead of monsoon. Making a brief statement during Zero Hour, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said government was willing to sit with leaders of various political parties to find a long term solution so that issues like storage and availability of jute sacks do not become a regular problem. On increasing storage facility, he said government was supporting creation of storage facilities through its viability fund and by providing concessions in interests. He said external commercial borrowing subject to ceiling was being allowed as interest rates were lower. 
  Mukherjee, however, noted that godowns cannot come up "tomorrow" an the process will take time. In a bid to protect food grain lying in the open, from rains, contingency arrangements are been made, he said adding that jute bag producing units in West Bengal have been impressed upon increasing their production by 25,000 sacks from the present output of 2.50 lakh sacks per month. "...I hope they (trade unions) won't go on strike," he said drawing protests from Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI).
   Mukherjee said it was his personal experience that unions go on strike to put pressure at a time when jute sacks are required for procurement. Mukherjee said as per provisions in the Jute Act, jute bags can be substituted by plastic bags for a temporary period. But personally, Mukherjee said, he was against opting for plastic bags though government could opt for it to tide over the shortage. Besides, to ease pressure on godowns, Rural Development Ministry was exploring food for work scheme for MNREGA but the decision cannot be
taken immediately as states have to be consulted as they are the implementing agencies, he said. He said usually in November, states place their indent for jute sacks with the Food Ministry which in turn asks the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals to fulfil the requirements. "But there were two distortions this year," Mukherjee said explaining that Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had to procure more grain than it had expected leading to shortage. He said indents of Haryana and Punjab have been completed.
   Earlier, Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) questioned whether farmers were being "punished" for their record production. He said he had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mukherjee earlier in the day and demanded adequate supply of jute sacks for UP. Yadav said it was unfortunate that while people were dying of hunger, food grain was rotting in the open. Claiming that the situation of storage and procurement has not changed in the last decade, Yadav said it was the duty of the Centre to create more storage facilities. Narendra Tomar (BJP) said though the Madhya Praesh government has made extensive efforts to procure food grains from farmers, lack of jute bags has created hindrances. At this, some Congress members accused the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government of killing farmers in police firing leading to a verbal exchange between the ruling party and BJP members. 

  Jute mission extended by 2 years to achieve targets

  New Delhi, May 2, 2012: Failure to achieve targets and fully utilise funds set aside for Jute technology mission in last five years has forced the government to extend the deadline to complete the mission by another two years. As against Rs 355.55 crore sanctioned for the mission, textile ministry has been able to deploy about 65 per cent funds or Rs 231 crore across four mini missions, thereby having a left over of 35 per cent funds as unused besides falling short of the physical targets as well.
  “We are yet to achieve the physical targets for setting up jute parks, market yards, and purchase centres. Also, there is still a significant amount left  unused for the mission as a result of which the government has recently extended the deadline for completion of the project by two years till the end of this financial year,” a textile ministry official told Financial Chronicle. 
  Centre had launched the Jute technology mission for 2006-11 to develop jute industry and push for growth in jute farming community across West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya.The government had proposed to set up nine jute parks, four in West Bengal, one in Bihar and two in northeastern region. However, even after six years, none of the six parks, on which construction has already started, are fully functional as on December 31, 2011.
  Similarly, out of the targeted 12 market yards, work has been completed on eight yards while the remaining four are in progress and out of the 40 departmental purchase centres, only 21 have been completed and the work is yet to be completed in 19 other centres.
Jute technology mission has four mini missions pertaining to agriculture research and seed development, agronomic practices, harvest and post harvest techniques, primary and secondary processing of raw jute, diversified product development and marketing and distribution. The funds allocated for each mission was Rs 7.1 crore, Rs 49.9 crore, Rs 64.8 crore and Rs 233.8 crore.
   It is estimated that the mission will benefit nearly 0.37 million workers employed in jute mills and ancillary units as well as support
the livelihood of around 4.0 million farm families. Besides, it will help to modernise the jute industry and enable the country reap benefits
of enhanced levels of jute diversification. Source: Financial Chronicle

 A hailstorm and heavy rain in Purnia will help jute growers

  PURNIA/SAHARSA, April 9,2012: A hailstorm accompanied by heavy rain struck Purnia and Kosi divisions twice on Friday night. The impact of the hailstorm and rain was quite severe in Katihar district, official sources said. "It was for the first time that a hailstorm of such a magnitude hit the area," recalled Riazul Haque, a resident of Purnia. Heavy rain also lashed parts of Kosi division, the sources said. Jute growers are quite optimistic about the heavy rainfall as the sowing season is at its peak. Such a heavy rain had never been witnessed at this time of the year in the past few years, said a jute grower, Gaisuddin, of Simalbari. Rain will immensely boost jute farming, added Krishna Mohan Singh of Gopalpur in Kishanganj district.
  Kishanganj district agriculture officer (DAO) Sant Lal Saha said, "The rain will help growers of pulse like moong and jute in the district." Saharsa DAO U P Mandal, however, struck a discordant note, saying rain will adversely impact the wheat crop which was already ripe for harvesting. The weatherman in Purnia said the district recorded 36 mm of rainfall. Rain swept through the district twice on Friday night. However, no casualty was reported. Source: Times of India

   Fire in Samstipur Jute Mill burning for last four days 

   Samastipur, March 26, 2012: Bihar’s only Jute mill is burning for last four days. Fifty fire engines are trying to douse the fire but they are yet to succeed. One person has died in this fire while properties worth Rupees 25 Crores have been destroyed. Two others have been seriously injured. A major fire broke out four days ago in this jute mill based at Samastipur of Bihar. The fire is now reaching towards the machines installed in the mill and it has raised a big question mark over the future of around 5000 workers employed here.
  The fire destroyed raw jute worth about Rs three crore in a jute mill at Muktapur in Samastipur district. The fire broke out in the Rameshwar Jute Mill and fire tenders fought for hours to douse the flame last night. District Magistrate and Superintendent of police visited the mill and took stock of the situation. Source:  India TV News

  Cabinet ignores Mamata Banerjee, hike jute MSP
  New Delhi, March 02, 2012: After conceding to several demands of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on key policy issues, the UPA government finally brushed aside one of her key demands-on the minimum support price (MSP) of jute. The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday decided to hike the MSP for jute to Rs 2,200 per quintal for 2012-13 from the existing Rs 1,695 per quintal for 2011-12. But Banerjee had written to the PM demanding almost 120% rise to make it Rs 3,750 per quintal for 2012-13. West Bengal is the largest jute producer and has the maximum jute factories in the country.
  The rigidity in deciding the jute's support price came days after the Centre was forced to put on hold the National Counter-Terror Centre (NCTC) as Banerjee led a brigade of non-Congress CMs against it. When the jute MSP came up for discussion in the Cabinet meeting, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi - the sole representative of the Trinamool Congress in the Cabinet - pointed out that his political boss has asked for a bigger hike.
   According to a Cabinet colleague, "Dinesh made a valiant effort to make the Cabinet accept Banerjee's arguments. But he didn't succeed." When Trivedi argued for the hike, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said the proposal of Rs 2,200 as MSP is based on the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices' report.

   Major fire at Baranagar jute mill in north Kolkata
   KOLKATA, March 01, 2012: A major fire broke out at Baranagar jute mill on the banks of Ganga in north Kolkata on Wednesday
evening. According to Bengali TV channel Star Ananda, the fire broke out at around 8.45pm. Twelve fire tenders have been pressed to bring it under control. Fire was raging at 11.20pm, the channel said. Water from the Ganga is being used to douse the fire. There was no report of any injury or casualty. The cause of the fire is not yet known. Source: Times of India

Jute cultivation in Odisha has come down
  BHUBANESWAR, February 10, 2012: Jute cultivation in Orissa has come down to just 10,000 hectares (ha) from over 40,000 ha in the last 10 years. Participating in the national-level annual meeting of All India Network Project on Jute & Allied Fibres (AINPJAF) here on Tuesday, researchers said climate changes and lack of facilities for post-harvest management and marketability of the crop are the primary reasons behind the declining crop pattern. Currently, it is the small and marginal farmers - particularly in coastal areas - who are taking up jute cultivation. Inaugurating the meeting, Swapan Kumar Dutta, Deputy Director-General (crop science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, asked the local scientists to  reorient research priorities in jute cultivation in tune with the times to suit the market and industry. He said that measures should also be taken to increase the availability of certified seeds of fibre crops.
   “Jute and allied fibres should be encouraged where there was high potential and not in every geographic area,” Dutta said, adding that the production of good nuclear breeder seeds was important for increasing area under fibre crops. On the occasion, OUAT Vice- Chancellor D P Ray said natural fibres like jute are considered as fibres of the future and it was important to conserve and promote them. “These days, the demand for jute fibre is on the rise in the State and outside. Therefore, product diversification should be the future thrust for proper utilisation of jute and allied fibres,” he said.
  It was decided at the meeting that a proposal will be placed before the central- level variety release committee of the AINPJAF for sanction to provide six new varieties of jute and allied fibres like Mesta, Sunnhemp and Ramie for cultivation in the State. This year, an improved variety of jute called KJC7 (Shresta) has been sanctioned by the committee to be cultivated in State.
  Issues like value addition, pest control and quality improvement of jute and allied fibre crops were discussed during the meeting. As many as 80 scientists from across the country participated in the meeting. The AINPJAF is being implemented across nine states, including Odisha, for promotion of jute cultivation. Source: Ibnlive 

  India Jute Mill to reopen on February 2

  Kolkata, February 1, 2012 (PTI): India Jute Mill in Hooghly district will reopen tomorrow after remaining closed since March 21, last year.  Following a tripartite meeting today, the mill management agreed to pay an advance of Rs 3,000 to the workers immediately, which would be deducted from salaries in instalments, the West Bengal Labour Minister, Mr Purnendu Bose, said.
  The management also agreed to clear all the dues as per an agreement in 2010, Mr Bose said after the tripartite meeting. It was also decided unanimously to set up a monitoring committee to keep a tab on all aspects of production at the mill in Serampore. The committee would comprise representatives of management, workers and lawyers. Both the management and the workers were happy at the decision to reopen the mill, the minister added.The mill employs about 5,500 workers.

  Jute MSP set for massive rise

   New Delhi January 16, 2012: Just like what cotton crops are facing in parts of Maharashtra, a crisis is engulfing jute farming in the opposite part of the country. Growers in West Bengal have been facing the brunt of falling prices amid low demand for several months. To compensate for the loss, the Union agriculture ministry has proposed to significantly increase the minimum support price (MSP) of raw jute in the 2012-13 crop season. It is for the Cabinet to take a final decision. Officials say they expect a roughly 30 per cent rise in MSP. This, if finalised, will be one of the highest increases in jute MSP in the last five years. The average increase in these years has been 11 per cent. The highest rise, of almost 19 per cent, happened in 2008-09.
   West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress, has been championing the cause of the state's jute farmers. Raw jute prices in that state, the country's primary producer of the commodity, have plummeted by 23 per cent in the last one year to around Rs 2,300 per bale (1 bale is 180 kg). The prices dropped as farmers rushed to cash in on the high prices realised last year, without factoring in the probable demand. The rise in the production of raw jute has not been matched by a corresponding rise in demand, as the use of jute is limited to a few industries.
   Ministry of agriculture data show a rise in raw jute production by around six per cent, at 10.58 million bales in 2011-2012. However, this relatively small rise has been big enough to cause a sharp decline in price. Food Corporation of India (FCI) and sugar millers are among the biggest buyers of jute bags, as the law makes it mandatory for them to package all their produce in jute bags. Jute farmers  problem in West Bengal and also other states is similar to that of cotton "a sudden rise in production followed by a sharp decline in prices,"  a senior agriculture ministry official explained.
   The cost of production of jute has risen by 37 per cent in the last one year, largely because of labour cost. Jute is a very labour- intensive crop. "However," the official said, "it would not be possible to compensate for the entire increase in cost of production or else the user industries will suffer leading to a fall in demand."  He said the hike, as proposed by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (the government's nodal agency for fixing price of jute), would be substantial enough. Source: Business Standard

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