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Govt impose 6- month jute stock limit, relaxes norms for JCI

by Soumadeep Bagchi

In a significant development, Jute Commissioner Moloy Chakraborty relaxed stock control norms for raw jute procured  from the Jute Corporation of India (JCI) by Jute Mills .He, however, imposed a 6-month stock limit on 72 mills for open market purchase to control the ongoing raw jute crisis. Suvendu Adhikary, BJP’s prime face in Bengal 2021 elections is JCI chairman. At a meeting in Chandennagore, Suvendu blamed the the state labour department for the present problems in jute mills. Suvendu is tipped as BJP’s right arm in West Bengal’s 112 seats in 15 jute districts. Arjun Singh, BJP MP from Barrackpore, is also on JCI board. Suvendu is the fourth politician to become the Chairman of JCI.

The Jute Commissioner has requisitioned weekly reports of raw jute stocks in jute mills, failing which he has warned of punitive and legal action against the mills. The jute mills will have to furnish details of raw jute stocks they were holding before 31st December 2020 within 25th January. Industry observers said, “ it is unclear whether the Commissioner has relaxed norms for jute procured by JCI under commercial purchase or minimum support price (MSP) operations’’. Commercial purchase is also open market operation. JCI was created in 1971 only to help the jute farmer by stopping distress sale with MSP operations.

Jute industry is facing raw jute supply crisis and six mills have closed down. Around 30,000 workers have lost jobs. Prices of raw jute has shot through the roof and is ruling over the prohibitive level of Rs 6100 / quintal. Until now the state government and the Jute Commissioner has failed to control the raw jute crisis as traders are unwilling to listen to their requests. The traders had called a suspension of supplies on 23 November. At present, they are on a go-slow move. The industry has blamed the traders for hoarding 23-25 lakh bales of jute crop and creating an artificial crisis. The traders have denied the allegation. In December, Kolkata High Court ruled coercive action against hoarders. It is reliably learnt, that Commisisoner Chakraborty has raided a few jute godowns but has been unable to create a feeling of deterrence among raw jute traders.

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