The Indian Jute Industry : The Reincarnation
The Government of India, implemented the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 to facilitate the state takeover of all the private jute mills namely six factories, five in West Bengal and one in Bihar. Prior to the 1980s jute industry was a private sector but widespread discontent among the mill workers prompted the Government to implement the National Company Limited (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance, 1980 and the Jute Companies (Nationalization) Act,1980 which resulted in the eventual nationalization of the five jute mills mentioned above.
The National Jute Manufacturers Corporation Limited (NJMC) was registered as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India under the Company’s Act 1956 in June 1980. Extensive financial restructuring was involved to make the company finally operational in 2012. NJMC (headquartered in Kolkata), is vested with the responsibility of the management and the successful operations of the six nationalized jute units namely Khardah, Kinnison, Alexandra, Union, National and RBHM. NJMC is involved in the manufacturing of jute products in the six units under its direct supervision along with a subsidiary, Birds Jute and Export.
The 11th Five Year Plan of the Government (2007-2012) witnessed the launching of the Jute Technology Mission (JTM). The plans outlined in the JTM include an overall revamping of the jute sector of our country which holds an important position in the country’s economy especially in the eastern region. The JTM with a budget of Rs 355.55crores has been subdivided into four Mini Missions. The sole objective of the Mini Missions is an exhaustive development of the jute sector of our country. This will involve R&D of the jute agriculture in general which will include all the operations involved in jute harvesting starting from seed development to improving post harvesting practices including the final processing of raw jute. Development of innovative jute products in addition to the standard products, value addition as well as their successful marketing are also included under these Mini Missions. The nodal agency, Jute Corporation of India Limited, has been vested with the special responsibility of executing the Mini Mission III by the Textile Ministry of India. The Mini Mission III is of particular importance as it is involved in important tasks like the overall development of the jute marketing sector and protecting the interest of the jute farmers as well as enhancing welfare programs for them. The Mini Mission III is being spearheaded by the Jute Commissioner.
The JTM has further extended its endeavours for the establishment of a series of Jute Parks. The government has duly cooperated by sanctioning nine proposed Jute parks mentioned below:
• Cooch Behar Jute Park Infrastructures Ltd., Chakchaka, Cooch Behar, West Bengal
• Murshidabad Jute Park Infrastructures Ltd., Rezinagar, Murshidabad, West Bengal
• Shaktigarh Jute Park Infrastructures Ltd., Shaktigarh, District Burdwan, West Bengal
• HMC Jute Park Enterprises Ltd., Panchla, Howrah, West Bengal
• W.B.S. Sikaria Jute Park Pvt. Ltd., Makdampur and Bilashpur Mouza, Raiganj, Uttar Dinajpur, West Bengal
• Punrasar Jute Park Ltd., Purnea, Bihar
• West Bengal Multifibre Pvt. Ltd., Beldanga, Murshidabad, West Bengal
• Dibru Jute Park, Dibrugarh, Assam
• Silchar Jute Park, Silchar, Cachar Dist., Assam
These Jute Parks, other than being equipped with efficient jute processing plants will also have amenities like power supply, roads and effective sewerage and drainage. Government subsidies will be available for the establishment of Jute Parks. The extensions of the plans of JTM and the funds required to implement them was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
Certain publicity measures are being adopted by the National Jute Board to increase the target audience. This will include regular location wise workshops to spread mass awareness regarding jute and jute products. This will be backed by press meets, organizing meeting between the consumers and the sellers involving exhaustive interactive sessions, using the various media available for advertisements and general promotional campaign. Other measures will include organizing fashion shows, setting up of permanent sales outlet points and retail chains, increasing the impact on the target audience through distribution of promotional jute commodities. Exhaustive use of the Broadband and the Internet to promote jute industry is also a part of the proposed publicity measures.
The JTM is receiving a considerable promotion through its active participation in various exhibitions and fashion shows. Mangalore witnessed the Jute Fair for the fourth consecutive year in August 2013. The Mangalore Jute Fair showcased a lot of innovative and trendy jute items starting from jute laptop bags to jute footwear. The exhibition also included catchy women’s accessories and handmade jute pots targeting especially the female consumers and other contemporary lifestyle products. A five day jute products exhibition was held in Ooty by the National Jute Board (a body set up by the Ministry of Textiles) as a part of the World Environmental Day at the USSS Hall. The exhibition, backed by Small Industries Product Promotion Organization (SIPPO) and a Madurai based NGO showcased a variety of jute products like jewellery, gift items, consumer durable, footwear, wall hangings, floor mats, and jute carpets (essentially floor coverings made from jute). One curious item on display was a jute knee pad innovated by P. Jayprakash, manufacturer of jute products, patent for which is still pending.
According to Raghav Gupta, Chairman of the Indian Jute Mills Association, “Despite a lower sowing, production is estimated to be 5-7 percent higher this year on account of a better yield aided by good weather conditions and rains”. However, raw jute prices have dropped by almost 13% in the last three months due to a shortage in the demand of jute for purposes such as sacking of sugar and food grains in spite of the mandatory Jute Packaging Materials Act,1987 (JPMA) for packing food grains and sugar.
The jute industry of India has gone through a lot of ups and downs. Jute industry flourished when the industry was entirely a private sector prior to the 1980s. But the jute mills closed down due to the acute grievance of the jute mill workers concerning low wages, long working hours and total negligence of the mill owners towards the labours. The Government enterprise of restarting the jute industry machinery after more than three decades is really a commendable step. Jute is eco-friendly, non-polluting and an ideal replacement for plastic bags that has become such a negative environmental issue. The Industry, as it picks up pace with time will also prove to be an employment intensive sector. The successful implementation of JTM will provide employment to 0.37 million workers in the industry itself, be the source of livelihood for 4 million farmers and a source of self employment for rural women.