BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani sent letter to the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to consider opening 18 jute mills for the manufacturing and supply of jute bags for packaging of foodgrains of the rabi season. The textile ministry has sent three letters to the Bengal government on April 4, April 13 and April 15 urging the Mamata Banerjee government to put 25 % workers on roaster basis for the manufacturing of those bags.
Though the Centre’s letter mentions 18 jute mills, the West Bengal government has allowed all the 61 operational jute mills in the state to function amid coronavirus lockdown but with 15 per cent workforce a day. And just like Mamata had ordered the state tea workforce to maintain social distance, she had asked the jute mill workers to maintain stringent social distancing all the time.
Procurement of the rabi crop begins in April and continues for two-three weeks. Major procuring states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have sought an additional 40,000 jute bales this year. One bale is equivalent to around 500 jute bags. In the absence of enough jute packaging bags, the textiles ministry is worried about the fate of the harvest across the country.