Govt riddles jute industry with multiple probes
Bengal’s jute industry is agog with charges on illegal recycling and import of jute bags meant for government supply from Bangladesh and Nepal.
Until now, around 11 mills led by big jute groups are accused of the alleged unfair practice. The Jute Commissioner’s Office (JCO) and the State Enforcement Branch (E.B) are on a hot pursuit against these groups. The Income-tax department has also started probing some of the large jute groups in other allied cases.
The alleged accused include the Sarda brothers owned Agarpara and Baranagore jute, Gupta-Jatia owned Hooghly groups’ Hooghly, Bowreah, Vijayshree and Hukumchand mills, Kankarriah owned Bally and Ambica Mills, Premium Agro, Jhunjhunwala owned Delta Mills, Kajaria owned M.R.E.L group of mills, Poddar owned Budge Budge Jute and RDB Textiles.
The Quality Assurance Wing of the Union Commerce Ministry has already issued instructions to initiate administrative action against a few of these group mills. Some cases are pending since 2011. In March 2016, JCO also identified inferior and poor quality jute bags supplied to FCI Odisha and Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation. These poor quality bags were supplied from jute mills of Bengal, Odisha, AP and Chattisgarh.
JCO located that cheap and imported jute bags were used by these mills for government supply. As per law, only bags manufactured in India can be used for government supply. Bangladesh bags are cheap as they are offered a cash subsidy of 10% and therefore can sell their products at a cheaper price. Nepal also has around four jute mills that produce bags with low production cost.