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.