With the National Jute Board strongly recommending the use of geo-textile for road construction, the R6,500-crore Indian jute industry could hope for a revival. The application of jute for protection of river banks, beds of waterways, stabilization of embankments and slopes can be a real game-changer for the ailing jute industry, which has been witnessing random closures and labour unrest in the past few years.
The National Jute Board (NJB), Bihar government’s rural works department and the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) has endorsed the use of geo-textile in Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Geotextiles are permeable fabrics which, when used in association with soil, have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain.
Bihar would be the first state to make use of jute geotextile in PMGSY and the state has arrived at this decision after holding workshops with NJB, IJMA and more than 100 civil engineers, Vinay Kumar, secretary for rural works department, government of Bihar said.
The jute industry has urged the Bihar government to make use of jute geo-textile mandatory in at least 15% of the state’s rural road construction under PMGSY, since using jute in about 200 projects across the country has proved to be cost-effective and beneficial in road construction, river bank protection as well as hill slope stabilization, IJMA director general Subhakriti Majumdar said. Though, the jute industry’s main production area is packaging, if the golden fibre is not used in an innovative way the jute industry would not survive under competition from the synthetic packaging industry, he added.
The Centre’s standing advisory committee on jute has been long advocating dilution of the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packaging Commodities) Act 1987.
Although successive governments have not been to absolutely dilute this Act, the governments have gradually reduced procurement of jute packaging materials like sacks for Food Corporation India (FCI) for packing grains. A finance ministry note has recommended dilution and a full phase out of the Act within next two years, which means the industry is being led towards complete extinction.
A textile ministry official said while Bihar is looking at innovative ways to save the jute industry since most of the workers engaged in the jute mills are from Bihar.