Rice millers body alleges scam in purchase of jute bags Jalandhar, September 6, 2011: The Punjab Rice Millers Welfare Association (PRMWA) on Monday alleged a multi-crore scam in the purchase of jute bags for packing paddy in the coming season. Not only the bags were purchased at a higher rate, but these also did not meet the specifications set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), it added. PRMWA office bearers, while speaking to mediapersons in Jalandhar, displayed bags on which Punjab Governmentwas printed.As per the BIS specifications, the weight of a jute bag should be 665 gm, but these weigh less then 600 gm,said PRMWA president Rakesh Jain. When one such bag was measured in front of media persons with an electronic weighing machine, the weight was recorded at 511 gm. According to Jain, the bags were being purchased by the director of General Supply and Disposal (Delhi) and being supplied to various states, where paddy was being produced. He asked that while the same quality of bag was available in the market at a price of Rs 23, why did the government purchase it for Rs 39 per bag last year. This year, too, the government paid around Rs 48 per pag, he alleged. Jain further said that the enormity of the scam can be gauged from the fact that around 43 crore such bags are used every year in Punjab alone. Source: Indian Express Mamata Banerjee requests to Pawar to give bonus on jute Kolkata, Aug 29 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has urged Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to give a bonus of Rs 400 per qunital in jute to save the jute farmers of the state. In a letter written dated August 23, Banerjee has drawn attention of the Union Agriculture Minister about the minimum support price announced by the Government of India, official sources said. "For TD-5 variety of Jute, the MSP announced by the government of Indiais ranging from Rs 1700 to Rs 1738, although the costs of production of Jute is much higher in comparison" Banerjee wrote, they said. "In this connection I would like to mention that the cost of production of jute for this year is estimated to be Rs 2350 per quintal" Banerjee wrote. "Sale of Jute by the farmers at the prevailing market price of Rs 2000 per quintal tantamount to distress sale" Banerjee said. "The jute producers are forced to settle for a rate which is lesser than the cost of production on one hand but with the MSP being so low, the procurement by Jute Corporation of India is nil in spite of having 101 procurement centres in the state" the letter said. "I request you to kindly intervene and announce a bonus of at least Rs 400 per quintal immediately to save the farmers" Banerjee added. Kanoria Jute Mills reopens after 5 years Kolkata, August 23, 2011: Howrah's Kanoria Jute Mills, which had remained closed for five years because of labour and wage problems, reopened today following an agreement signed by the government, the owner and the major unions. ?If a factory closes down, the workers are affected the most. The new government believes in negotiations to keep factory gates open. Kanoria Jute Mills will run on mutual co-operation among the owner, government and the workers. Strikes called on trivial issues will be dealt with strictly, said labour minister Purnendu Bose, who was present at the reopening. The factory siren blew at 11am. Bose, who was once the leader of Sangrami Shramik Union that is one of the unions at the mill, had brokered peace between the management and the workers. The tripartite agreement was signed on July 22 by the state government, mill owner S.S. Pasari and representatives of the Sangrami Shramik Union and Trinamul's INTTUC. The CPM's Citu, Forward Bloc's TUCC and the Congress's Intuc did not sign the agreement but have promised co-operation in the smooth running of the mill. The 81-year-old jute mill that is spread over 35 acres was closed down on March 20, 2006. INTTUC sources said the mill had closed and reopened 17 times in the past 24 years. Last time, it was closed because of labour unrest and inadequate wages, the sources said. "The mill will be reopened with full support from the government. From tomorrow, we are going to start maintenance work. By September 10, we will start operations," Pasari said. He said that although the mill had the capacity to produce 90 tonnes of jute yarn daily, the initial output would be less than a fourth of that. "We will start with 20 tonnes per day for now. We hope to produce 90 tonnes per day within a year and later consider expanding the capacity," he said. "We have a worker strength of 2,500. Of them, 1,500 are on the rolls while the rest are casual workers. The issue of hiring more workers will arise only when we consider expansion," Pasari added. He said an initial investment of Rs 12 crore would be made to revive the mill. Pasari blamed the Left Front government for the mill remaining closed for such a long time. Minister Bose said the mill used to be run on generators every time it reopened. "One of the major allegations of the workers against the mill owner was that he never wanted to run it. But this is the first time Pasari has invested Rs 50 lakh to get a power connection. This has raised hopes among workers," Bose said. The minister assured the workers that he would ensure their dues were cleared in three months and the provident fund and gratuity problems solved. Source:telegraphindia 19,000 jobless on closure of 8 private jute mills: Rajya Sabha NEW DELHI, August 18, 2011: Closure of eight private jute mills have rendered over 19,000 workers jobless, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. The eight jute mills including Kanpur Udyog, J K Jute, Gouripur and Chitavalsa were closed down and rendered 19,723 workers jobless, Minister of State for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. She said Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for workers and staff of the National Jute Manufacturers Corporation (NJMC) has been introduced as per the Union Cabinet's approval in 2005. Accordingly, 17,000 workers and staff (of NJMC) have opted for VRS and got released after full and final settlement of all dues. Asked whether the government has launched the Textile Workers' Rehabilitation Fund Scheme (TWRFS), she said her ministry launched the scheme in September, 1986. The scheme was introduced to provide interim relief to workers who were rendered jobless as a consequence of permanent closure of the textiles units in the private sector. She however said the scheme is not applicable to the state/central government public sector undertakings and the textile units in the co-operative sector of the state/central government. Country's first Rs 600 crore jute park in Purnia district PATNA, August 12, 2011: India's first jute park named Punrasar Jute Park is coming up at Maranga in Purnia district at a cost of Rs 600 crore. The seven unit jute park will mop up jute from jute farms in the hinterland of the Kosi region in north-east Bihar for production of jute yarn. The products and finished goods will be marketed across the country. This will check export of jute from the farms in the Kosi belt to jute mills in other states. First unit of the jute park at Maranga, the production-cum-training centre with 20 metric tonne per day jute yarn production capacity, will become operational in three months. The plant and machinery for the production-cum-training centre has been imported from China, said Sunil Chaudhary, a representative of Punrasar Jute Park Ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) promoted by an industrialist from Kolkata, P C Choraria. A joint venture of the Punrasar Jute Park Ltd and the state government, the park which would have five per cent stake as it has provided about 45 acres of land in Maranga industrial area in Purnia town through the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA). BIADA executive director, Bhogendra Lal, on Thursday said Rs 7.25 crore had already been invested in developing the jute park. He said Rs 44.5 crore would be invested in infrastructure development of the park. The jute park with its seven units will provide direct and indirect employment to around 20,000 people, Chaudhary said adding that SPV promoter P C Choraria has been successfully running the Rameshwar jute mill in Samastipur district for which he had received award from the Bihar government for good production of jute yarn. He also runs a couple of jute mills in West Bengal, Chaudhary said. INTTUC members gherao Birlapur jute mill KOLKATA, August 8, 2011: Despite strict instructions from the Trinamool Congress leadership, a gherao and wrongful confinement of managerial personnel took place at Birla Jute Mills at Birlapur on Saturday at the behest of the leadership of a faction of an Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress ( INTTUC) union. The crisis struck at 6am when a section of workmen resorted to a wildcat strike on some machines on the ground complaining that their workload has been increased. The union was led by Sachindra Singh, a former workman of the mill, whose services were terminated for an attempt to murder the ex-Vice-President, personnel and administration, of the mill. The gherao lasted till 7am and was lifted after Trinamool leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay intervened. Kanoria Jute Mills to reopen after five years KOLKATA, July 25, 2011: Kanoria Jute Mills one of the bigger mills in West Bengal which was lying closed since 2006, is set to reopen. This was the first such major development on the state's industrial relations front since the formation of the Mamata Banerjee government which has identified jute as a priority sector. This was announced by the state Labour Minister Purnendu Bose at the State Secretariat, following a tripartite discussion in this matter. He said that while the gates of the factory would reopen on August 22, production would start only from September 10. There would be no retrenchment of any of the 1,500 employees on the rolls of the company at the time of closure. Mr. Bose also said that should any person have reached retirement during the five-year period, his next of kin would be eligible for employment at the mill. According to Mr. Basu, the mill management, as per the tripartite agreement, has agreed to clear all wages of workers which are still pending. “Dues will be cleared on September 10, the day when full fledged operations start in the mills,” Mr. Basu said. Owned by Kolkata- based businessman Shiv Shankar Pasari, the mill was closed in March 2006 following a long history of “militant” trade unionism, labour unrest and management issues, including improper payment of wages to its workers. It was declared sick in the early Nineties when Mr. Pasari took over the management as part of a revival package. Tata announces world’s cheapest house with material jute cladding July 19, 2011: Tata Group, the company behind the ‘world’s cheapest car’ the Tata Nano, has announced the development of its latest product: the ‘Nano’ flatpack house. Yes, Tata is now looking to claim the title of offering the world’s cheapest house on the market. Dubbed the Nano house, the flatpack dwelling comes with pre-fabricated materials, including doors and windows, for a house of around 20 square metres in size. Materials consist of coconut or jute cladding complete with interior layouts. The proposed price of the ready-to- assemble kit is said to be just $US700. Tata is also developing a larger 30 square metre home with optional extras, such as a front verandah and a solar energy system. Head of the house project at Tata, Sumitesh Das, recently said at the announcement, “We have already prepared two to three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback. Hopefully, in the next six to eight months we should be able to roll it out in the market nationally.” Tata says the homes will be sold to those living in village areas and could also be sold to councils in bulk that are looking to build up areas. Mr Das also said the company was bouncing ideas off local councils to develop the most suitable style homes. The houses are said to have a life expectancy of around 20 years. Himachal Pradesh government adopting jute geotextitle HP, July 11, 2011: After banning the use of polythene, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to explore possibilities of adopting jute geotextitle (JGT) applications in soil protection works, stabilisation of hill slopes, dumping sites, building of roads and controlling land erosion in river banks. Chief secretary Rajwant Sandhu recntly said that the government is set to launch a pilot project on the use of geotextile applications in major departments like irrigation and public health, PWD, forest, urban development, tourism and power. Infact, some of the experiments conducted in using jute geotextile applications at the Kol Dam hydel project for soil protection works have shown encouraging results. Textiles ministry restarts scheme to boost jute goods exports Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar July 4, 2011: In a bid to promote jute goods exports the Union textiles ministry has reintroduced the External Market Assistance (EMA) scheme after a gap of four years. The scheme was scrapped from April 2007 as it failed to yield the desired results for jute goods manufacturers in the overseas markets. The new scheme, however, is being introduced with riders where jute companies will have to comply with three types of national and international certifications on the quality of their products to avail of the new EMA facilities. India exports jute goods worth around Rs 1200 crore every year to the US, Europe, Africa, West Asia, China and some Latin American countries. As per the new EMA scheme, a subsidy at the rate of two per cent of the FOB (free on board) value of the jute goods will be provided to all ordinarily exporting jute companies. A maximum subsidy at the rate of fourper cent of the FOB value will only be given to those companies who comply with Quality Management Certificate under IS / ISO 9001:2005 from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Environmental Management Systems Certificate under IS/ ISO 14001 : 2008 and Certificate of Safety Management Systems under BS /OHSAS (Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Series) 18001:2008. The mandatory three certificates on quality, safety and environmental compliance for an additional two per cent subsidy has placed most jute mill companies in problem as majority of them have not modernized their mills and only stuck to vintage outlook. Of the 52 operating jute mill companies in West Bengal, only one jute unit run by the Bangurs-Gloster Jute Mill has the capacity to comply with the government demand. This, quite naturally has placed the whole of the jute industry to shame and mill owners have started throwing up their arms against the government move. Before being scrapped in 2007, the EMA subsidy was offered to jute companies at the rate of five per cent of the FOB value and the money used to be paid from the cess funds collected by the government on the manufacture of jute bags. The nodal agency was the erstwhile Jute Manufacturers' Development Council (JMDC) now called the National Jute Board. A number of jute companies had moved court against the government claiming non payment of EMA of around Rs eight crore. The government claimed that it had adjusted the amount on a different subsidy it had provided to the jute companies on the export of food grade jute bags (FGJB).Source: Business Standard Area under major kharif crops jute/mesta has risen and rice, cotton down NEW DELHI, June 25, 2011 (PTI): Area under major kharif crops like rice, oilseeds, cotton and pulses have declined in the current kharif season so far, according to the government data. However, crop area under sugarcane and jute/mesta has risen in the same period. Area under rice, a major kharif crop, has gone down by almost 8 per cent to 19.09 lakh hectares in 2011-12 kharif season so far compared to 20.72 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. Less area is reported mainly in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, according to the data. However, in sugarcane -- another major kharif crop -- sowing area has increased by about five per cent to 50.94 lakh hectares in the current season as against 48.71 lakh hectares in the same period of the previous year. Sowing of Kharif Crops in Progress Ministry of Agriculture, June 13, 2011: Sowing of Kharif Crops in Progress in states. Sowing of Jute and Mesta is in progress. 8.47 lakh hectare has been covered under the cultivation of jute and mesta till date as compared to 7.78 lakh hectare last year. Cotton has been sown in 20.14 lakh hectare as compared to 14.41 lakh hectare last year. It represents an increase of about 5.73 lakh hectare over the last year’s acreage. Sugarcane has been planted in 50.44 lakh hectare till date as compared to 48.63 lakh hectare at this point of time last year. Raw jute output expected to be 10% higher in 2011 Kolkata, May 26, 2011: Backed by a favourable weather and adequate availability of seeds in the market, sowing of raw jute is estimated to be higher in 2011-12. The production of raw jute is therefore expected to be about ten per cent higher at about 110 lakh bales during the current year, according to senior officials in the jute industry. Raw jute production was about 95-100 lakh bales in 2010-11. Jute sowing usually starts by the end of March and continues up to the end of May. “Sowing started in the first week of April across the various jute growing districts. The weather has been hot and humid with regular bouts of showers, which is ideal for sowing. Moreover, seeds and fertiliser are also available in plenty,” said a senior official in the industry. Silghat jute mill facing workers problem Guwahati, Saturday, May 21, 2011: The Assam Cooperative Jute Mills Limited, Silghat was closed due to loss but later reopened as per the Assam Accord as a result of which the employees were benefited. Since then the mill has been managed properly with profits till now. It may be mentioned that in 2010, the mill was awarded "A " grade among the public enterprises, Assam Government and also awarded Naba Ratna Award. Besides ISO 9001: 2008 certified by the BIS, it is also working towards ISO, 140001: 204 EMS certificate (for Management and Environment Management System). The jute mill management has also undertaken a Rs 3.5-crore project of bleaching, dyeing and lamination of cloth from its own resources in which about 200 youths will be provided employment opportunities. . Decade after its closure, HC orders mill authority pay PF Barrackpore, May 4, 2011 (UNI): More than a decade after closure of the Gauripur Jute Mill at Naihati in North 24 Parganas, the Calcutta High Court has directed the Mill authority to pay provident fund to its employees. Official sources here today said a single judge Bench of the High Court on Monday ordered the Gauripur Jute Mill authorities to disburse the provident fund with interest to its employees without raising further complications. The employees provident fund, which was controlled by a Trusty board concerning the Gouripur Jute Mill, will have to be disbursed without further delay, Justice Tapen Sen said and directed the state labour board to revoke its order suspending the trusty board. The state Labour board had earlier imposed restriction on the trustee board of the Mill in handling the provident fund of its employees till further order following closure of the Mill on December 12, 1997.Several workers unions involved with the Gauripur Jute Mill moved Court alleging that PF amount deducted from its employees were not refunded to a large number of them. At least 5,000 employees of different categories were on the roll when the Mill was closed down. The workers union sources said more than Rs 12 crore were left idle by the Trustee Board of the Mill controlling the employees provident without fund depositing the money to the Employees Provident Fund Commissioner acting under the Provident Fund Act. Government issues guidelines to disburse Rs 1,972 cr under TUFS Kolkata, May 02, 2011 (PTI): Government on Monday came out with fresh guidelines to disburse Rs 1,972 crore (Rs 19.72 billion) during the period April 28, 2011 and March 31, 2012, to the textile industry under Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS). TUFS is the flagship interest subsidy scheme of the Textiles Ministry for upgradation of technology and boost the textile and jute sectors. The ministry said the additional interest subsidy of Rs 1,972 crore (Rs 19.72 billion) would help in attracting new investments worth Rs 46,900 crore (Rs 46.9 billion) in these sectors. Under the financial and operational parameters of the restructured TUFS, brand new shuttleless looms can avail the benefit of 5 per cent interest reimbursement plus 10 per cent capital subsidy, an official statement said. "The scheme will cover only automatic shuttleless looms of 10 years' vintage and with a residual life of minimum 10 years," it said. Investments like factory building, pre- operative expenses will be eligible for benefit of reimbursement under the scheme meant for apparel sector and handloom, it said. For spinning machinery, the scheme would provide 4 per cent interest subsidy for new stand alone and 5 per cent for spinning units with matching capacity in weaving, knitting, processing and garmenting. It would also cover foreign exchange rate fluctuation. The ministry also said that the Common Effluent Treatment Plant and other investments like, energy saving devices, in-house R&D and electrical installations will not be eligible under restructured TUFS. Further, it said that interest reimbursement will be for a period of 7 years. During March end, the government has decided to enhance subsidy allocation for modernisation of the textiles industry to Rs 15,404 crore (Rs 154.04 billion) from the earlier sanction of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) for the current Plan ending 2012. The decision to increase the outlay and re-structure the Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF) was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. Of the additional Rs 7,404 crore (Rs 74.04 billion), Rs 1,972 crore (Rs 19.72 billion) would be available for fresh sanctions while the remaining Rs 5,432 crore (Rs 54.32 billion) is meant for fulfilling the committed liabilities under the TUFS. India Announces 25% Hike in Duty Free Textile Quota from Bangladesh Dhaka, April 28, 2011: Indian Minister of Commerce, Mr. Anand Sharma announced, “We have removed countervailing duty on jute and hiked quota on readymade garments imports from Bangladesh from eight million to ten million”. In order to fasten the trade, Mr. Anand Sharma committed to raise the slab of duty free quota on export of textiles from Bangladesh to India by 25%, though his Bangladeshi counterpart, Mr. Mohammad Faruk Khan, pressed for 61%. Government withdraws excise levy on jute products Kolkata, April 21, 2011 (PTI): The Finance Ministry on Thursday withdrew the 10 per cent excise duty levied on jute products in March this year. "The ministry in a corrigendum to the March 24, 2011 notification maintained the exemption of excise duty on the jute products except laminated jute bags," an official source said here today. "We are happy as the corrigendum from the ministry has brought relief to the Rs 6,000 crore industry," Ex-Indian Jute Mills Association Chairman and an industry veteran Sanjay Kajaria said. In March, the Union government had slapped an excise duty of 10 per cent on jute products that constitute about 80 per cent of the Rs 6,000 crore industry and threatened to cripple the fate of 2.5 lakh workers. He added that the decision to levy 10 per cent excise duty was an error of part of the ministry as jute comes under textiles and branded garments on which excise duty has already been levied. Govt contemplates criminal case against Jute Mill management GUNTUR, April 18, 2011: The labour department is seriously contemplating slapping criminal cases against the management of the Rs 200 crore-Bhajrang Jute Mill in the city for not holding talks with the trade unions. The management has so far abstained from all the three meetings called by the department to discuss the contentious issues including wage hike and conduct of trade union elections in the factory. While the wage revision is due from last September, the term of the recognised union expired almost three months ago. Allegations are rife that the management has been avoiding the talks as it has struck some secret understanding with a recognised union in the mill on delaying the wage revision. While there are seven unions in the plant, only one recognised union headed by YSR Congress leader Lella Appireddy, is taking the side of management. Three die as jute mill wall collapses on them Barasat (WB), April 13, 2011 (PTI): Three persons were killed and six others injured today when the damaged boundary wall of a jute mill collapsed on them at Titagarh in North 24-Parganas district.The police said Boodida Laxman (28), B Gopi (28) and P Krishna Rao (33) died on the spot when the wall of Kelvin Jute Mill fell on them as they were sitting nearby.The injured people were admitted to a local hospital and the condition of four of them were stated to be serious, sources said. Finance Ministry slaps 10% excise duty on jute items Kolkata April 8, 2011 (PTI): The Union government has slapped an excise duty of 10% on jute products that constitute about 80% of the Rs 6,000 crore industry and threatens to cripple the fate of 2.5 lakh workers. "This 10% central excise duty on the jute sector will bring great trouble to the industry and increase the cost of jute packaging products," industry veteran Sanjay Kajaria said. He believes this could be an error of part of the ministry as jute comes under textiles and branded garments on which excise duty has already been levied. All export orders have been stalled because of the notification, Kajaria informed. There was no mention in the Union Budget about any such step, but a government notification dated March 24 levied 10% excise duty on branded and non-branded jute products meant for domestic consumption or export under the HS code 6305 including hessian, sacking and jute soil savers, official sources told PTI. The government in a notification dated March 1, had asked for 10% duty to be imposed on branded jute products. Thereafter, a letter by the jute commissioner followed stating that the branding in jute items was required for various reasons of 'marking' and thus the levy should be withdrawn."But, another notification dated March 24 clarified that duty would be levied on all branded and non-branded jute products," the sources said. Mill owners expressed concern over inadequate action taken by the Indian Jute Mills Association (JMA) in this regard. JMA chairman M Poddar, however, said a representation from the industry body has gone to various departments of the ministry in Delhi. The jute industry is also under fire from the Union Ministry for Food and Public Distribution, where some jute mill owners based out of West Bengal had supplied inferior quality jute bags. The jute bags were to be used for packaging of food grains in Punjab. AI Champdany Industries suspends Work at Wellington Jute Mill Kolkata, March 24, 2011: AI Champdany Industries Ltd has declared Suspension of Work at one of the unit viz. Wellington Jute Mill, Rishra from March 21, 2011 for eradication of all wasteful practice, indiscipline, frequent concerted stoppages of work on one pretext or other, state of lawlessness throughout the mill and to comply with manning pattern followed in the industry by the workers of the unit. Source: Equity Bulls Ludlow mill renovation Kolkata, March 15, 2011: The Ludlow Mill was once the largest jute-making facility in the world.In it's hay day, more than 5,000 people working at the Mill. Today, there facility is used mainly as storage with only 30 tenants occupyingspace. But, That is all about to change. The Westmass Area Development Corporation has just secured 13 million in funding which will be used to renovate the mill into a mix-use facility. That means anything from commercial and industrial business to housing.Westmass President, Ken Delude says "It gives us the ability to have newdevelopment, new construction, adaptive reuses for the space and really bring the project to market for small businesses that need 500sqft or something that might need 150,000sqft."Betty Landy is one of the owners of Fancy Feet Plus. She's been in business across from the Mill for over 22 years. Landy believes this is just what the area needs. IJMA kept out of National Jute Board Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar March 10, 2011: The Indian jute industry represented by the century old Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) has been surprisingly disallowed an entry in the recently constituted apex jute body by the Union Textile Ministry- the National Jute Board (NJB) of India. Trade unions, workers and farmers' representatives have also been excluded from the Board.The Centre has set up the NJB as the only authorized body to deal with all jute related issues within and outside the country. The Indian jute industry produces 1.6 million tonnes of jute goods valued at around Rs 8000 crore and provides livelihood to four million farmers and around 0.4 million workers in the 66 operating mills of the country. Though West Bengal has the highest number (52) of operating mills in the country and produces 90 per cent of the country's raw jute there are also no representatives from the West Bengal government in the board. However, there are representatives from the Assam, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh government. These three states have only 10 odd mills and produce a meager nine per cent of the fibre crop. Says a highly placed official of the West Bengal government, "We shall take up the matter with the Textile Ministry". According to a prominent jute mill owner who recently walked out ofIJMA, "The Union Government has made IJMA irrelevant. We should have at least protested against such an injustice and asked the government for the reason behind IJMA's exclusion. Almost 40 per cent of our produce is consumed by the Govt."Most trade union representatives said, "JMDC was reduced to a travel and tourism department conducting meaningless fairs across the world and crippling the jute industry by wasting money."They alleged that they have been purposefully left out of the NJB by the textiles ministry. The NJB was recently constituted as per the National Jute Board Act 2008 by merging the erstwhile Jute Manufacturers'Development Council (JMDC) and the National Centre for Jute Diversification (NCJD).NJB started functioning from April 1 2010. The Board set up in pursuance of the National Jute Policy of 2005. Interestingly, the erstwhile JMDC had representations both from IJMA and the trade unions. Like JMDC, NJB will also run on funds collected from the jute industry as cess. Every year the industry is expected to pay an annual cess of Rs 50- 65 crore for running NJB depending on the price of the jute bags, though it has not been allowed an entry to the Board. NJB consists of 15 members of which 10 are government representatives and all of them are senior bureaucrats from the textiles ministry and the remaining five are jute technocrats including the Chairman andManaging Director of the almost now defunct Jute Corporation of India (JCI). For the past three years, JCI has stopped functioning as a price support operating body as raw jute prices are always ruling higher than that of the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1575 per quintal (Assam-TD 5). Source: Business Standard West Bengal's jute industry seeks way out of crisis Kolkata, March 6, 2011 (IANS): Inability to diversify uses and grab foreign markets combined with lack of support from the authorities are hindering the progress of West Bengal's once thriving jute industry. Synthetic substitutes as well as huge labour and production costs add to the sector's worry, apart from stiff competition from Bangladesh. 'Our jute sector is turning sick because it does not have a guardian. Cotton and sugar industries have lobbyists, but there is no one to protect the interests of the jute industry,' said Sanjay Kajaria, former chairman of the Indian Jute Mill Association. 'Foodgrains are packed in jute bags, but not sugar. Under the Jute Packaging Act it is imperative to pack sugar in jute bags, but the law is being defied. The government is also not taking any action,' Kajaria, who owns the Hastings Jute Mill, told IANS. According to him, there is a lack of political and administrative will to support the jute sector. He also alleged that major traders were hoarding raw jute to create artificial shortage in the market. Although the central government had proposed to set up jute parks for manufacturers, no such park came up, Kajaria claimed, adding: despite being eco-friendly, reusable and a natural fibre, use of jute is less than at the level it should have been.D.P. Nag, secretary of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI), said: 'Bangladesh has utilised green jute in the paper industry and the country is also using the fibre for garments which we could not do. We should be more innovative.'He also suggested that the ban on polythene should be strictly imposed. Production of raw jute was about 780,000 bales during 2010-11 in West Bengal, which has 600,000 hectares under jute cultivation. The state has 62 composite jute mills and 1,026 informal registered units producing diversified jute products. 'Around 80 percent of our jute production is used in domestic consumption. We have not caught the foreign markets properly,' added Nag. Pointing out that Bangladesh has banned the use of polythene bags completely, Bipul Malakar, professor of economics at Jadavpur University, said: 'Bangladesh produces jute bags with different colours, decorative bags and decorative carpets on a mass scale. India is lagging behind in these aspects and losing ground in foreign markets.'According to Jute Manufacturing Development Council secretary Atri Bhattacharya, the industry was facing stiff competition from synthetic substitutes. Sikkim Minister appeals to adopt jute GANGTOK, February 28, 2011: Sikkim Industry Minister Neeru Sewa inaugurated a five day-long jute fair, along with capacity building on marketing of jute-diversified product here on Thursday. The fair is organised by Sikkim Consultancy Centre (SICON) and sponsored by National Jute Board, under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and will conclude on February 28. Speaking to the media, Sewa said that since long plastic is banned in the State, so jute products is the best alternative as jute is eco-friendly and bio-degradable. Sewa informed that considering the present scenario of jute and its products in the State, it is under progress but needs to be given more emphasis in days to come. She appealed to the people of the State to go for jute as an alternative to plastic bags. The market promotion officer of National Jute Board, TK Saha informed that today the use of plastic is almost banned all over the nation , and the people are environment conscious as well, so jute was the best alternative natural product to replace plastic. Saha added that NJB has also set up jute service centres in various parts of the country along with jute raw bank from where the raw material can be availed at the mill price. Steps afoot to revive Katihar Jute Mill PATNA, February 21, 2011: A high-level meeting chaired by principal secretary, industry, C K Mishra on Thursday discussed the measures to provide exemptions and incentives for total revival of Katihar Jute Mill under the provisions of the State Industrial Policy, 2006 The meeting attended by the principal secretaries of the departments of finance, commercial taxes, revenue and land reforms, labour resources, institutional finance, the MD, BICICO and a representative of the chairman of the Bihar State Electricity Board deliberated the manner in which these departments would support the revival of the mill. The mill was closed around a decade ago affecting the jute farmers in the northeastern Bihar region. This had forced the farm labourers, who depended on labour-intensive jute farming and harvesting, to migrate to other states for jobs. These farmers in the Kosi region had a tough time and many farmers had switched over to groundnut farming from jute farming, particularly in and around Forbesganj in Araria district, in the early nineties. A change from farming of one cash crop (jute) to another cash crop (groundnut) might have saved the jute growers, but the farm labourers dependent on jute farming were rendered unemployed and this had led to their migration for jobs to other states. According to sources in the industry department, the state government is keen on revival of the mill, an enterprise of the central government undertaking, National Jute Manufacturing Corporation (NJMC), as this would generate employment to hundreds of people. Besides, this would lead to growth of industries and jute farming in a big way. This would benefit both the industrial and farm labourers who would be involved in jute farming, said deputy director, industries, Ravi Bhushan Prasad Sinha. Source: Times of India Fire in two jute mills in West Bengal Kolkata, January 24, 2011 (PTI) : Fire caused severe damage to two jute mills in Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts reducing tonnes of finished products and raw materials in ashes today but there was no casualty. According to the police, fire broke out at Wellington jute mill at Rishra in Hooghly district last night and was brought under control by seven fire tenders after 11 hours during the day. There was yet another blaze at a jute mill at Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas in the northern fringes of the city. Four tenders extinguished it this afternoon, the police said. Cause of the two fires and extent of damage were yet to be ascertained. Brahmaputra once again be used for jute navigation. GUWAHATI, June 20, 2010: The Brahmaputra, once the navigational lifeline of Assam, is back with a bang as one of the most viable waterways in the country. Two cargo vessels, loaded with jute , will leave the Pandu port here for Haldia in West Bengal on Friday, proving that the Brahmaputra can once again be used for commercial navigation. Friday's vessels will be the first to sail off from here carrying cargo after the Pandu port was modernized by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) last year. IWAI chairperson Bhupinder Prasad will flag off the cargo vessels. 50 Fall Sick Following Chlorine Gas Leak from MP Jute Mill Shahdol (MP), January 06, 2011: At least 50 persons were taken ill when chlorine gas leaked from a jute mill, about 35 km from here, this evening, police said. Three of them were said to be in a critical condition, they said. The incident occurred following a leak in one of the containers inwhich chlorine was stored at the Hukumchand Jute Mills, they said. Most of the affected were discharged after being given first-aidwhile the others were being treated, the police said. The critically ill have been identified as Pram Singh, a security officer with the company, R K Jaiswal and Hempal Sharma, they said. The situation around the factory is completely normal, police said.