The Union Textile Ministry is considering policy intervention, both long-term and short- term, to address the issues impeding the growth of the jute industry upon which the economy of West Bengal is highly dependent.
“We are trying to find out what can be done through long-term policy intervention to promote the sector. Separate brainstorming sessions will be held with mill owners and farmers,” Textile Secretary Rashmi Verma informed after a meeting of the jute industry stakeholders chaired by Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani.
The government would also try to devise solutions for short-term issues affecting the sector after further detailed meetings, she said.
The meeting was attended by the Indian Jute Mills Association, jute balers’ association, trade unions, farmers body and other stakeholders.
Verma said that jute mills raised issues like intense competition and cheap Bangladeshi import while jute balers said they were receiving late payments from mills and in turn farmers’ compensation was also being delayed.
Trinamool Rajya Sabhya MP Sukehndu Sekhar Roy, who was also present at the meeting, said that under no circumstances the mandatory Jute Packaging Act should be diluted as livelihood of lakhs of people was associated with it.
“I have also asked the Centre to take a balanced approach, so that mills are not closed in the name of disciplinary action,” he said.
“The Jute Commissioner office has taken action against 11 jute mills on divergent issues of violation of the jute control order. We are not against any action but have said that government should also look into the fact that mills do not get closed,” Roy said.
Citing an instance, Roy said that the North Brook Mill remained closed and some 4,000 workers were rendered jobless.
Roy further praised Union Minister, saying she (Irani) is very positive-minded and is sensitive towards the jute workers’ plight.
Later during the day, Verma held a Jute Board meeting and reviewed the status of the textile sector in the eastern states.