Amid a projected shortfall of more than 0.17 million bales (one bale is 180 kg) of B-Twill jute bags during the Rabi marketing season (RMS) for 2016-17, the Union textiles ministry
has allowed a dilution of 10 per cent in the mandatory jute packaging
order for food grains.
The estimated shortfall in B-Twill sacking bags will be offset by the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) bags. The department of food & public distribution is now empowered to take the call on use of plastic bags to meet the packaging requirement, the textiles ministry
said in an office order. The quantum of 0.17 million bales marks 10 per cent of the total packaging requirement in RMS
2016-17. The dilution order will be valid till March 31, 2017.
A decision on further relaxation of the jute order for foodgrains is expected to be taken later this month. The Jute Packaging
Materials Act, 1987 mandates compulsory packaging of food grains of 100 per cent in jute bags.
"There is a shortage in supply of jute bags and this may have promoted the Textiles ministry
to permit 10 per cent dilution in food grains packaging. Currency crunch has hit supplies of raw jute to the mills", said a leading jute mill owner.
An inspection by the office of the Jute Commissioner shows woeful figures in the supply of jute bags in the states of Odisha, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. Average despatched quantity of jute bags to these states (as on January 1, 2017) is only 18 per cent. On the premise of dwindling supplies, the Jute Commissioner's office had recommended a dilution of 10 per cent in food grains in favour of alternative packaging material.
The dilution move has triggered concerns in the jute industry hit hard by the demonetisation drive, putting to stake the future of 0.25 million jute workers in West Bengal.