The packaging requirement of foodgrain for the rabi marketing season (RMS) in 2018-19 has been pegged at 1.69 million bales. Of this, the shortfall in jute bags was calculated at 0.25 million. After consultations with the industry and hearing recommendations by the jute commissioner, the textiles ministry had approved use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) bags to the extent of 0.25 million bales.
The jute industry alleged the industry’s capacity was ignored and an artificial shortfall created.
“Although, the food ministry created an unwanted opportunity for synthetic (PP/HDPE) suppliers, they failed to manage orders. They could only manage a puny amount (order for 23,000 bales) from Punjab. However, they did not supply a single bale,” said an industry source.
The ministry is understood to have extended the RMS delivery date for supply of plastic bags by a couple of months from March and requested Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to float tenders for supply by May.
Indian Jute Mills Association, the apex body of the industry, has protested and sought to reverse the decision.
“We were taken aback in the food review meeting for RMS 2018-19 and advance planning meeting for the kharif marketing season, held on April 17 when we learnt the department of food shall be exercising the permission to dilute 0.25 million bales in May...,” read a letter to the prime minister, quoting chairman Manish Poddar.