About one lakh workers have been rendered jobless in West Bengal ( WB ) as the raw jute crisis continues to snowball. The jute sector offers employment to about 2.5 lakh people in the state.
In a joint representation to West Bengal labour minister, Malay Ghatak, mill owners said that so far a dozen jute mills have closed down that has left one lakh workers jobless. The letter also pointed out that while a large number of mills have been forced to curtail production, they have been saddled with surplus workers.
Mill owners complained that the Jute Packaging Material (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 (JPM Act, 1987), designed to save workers and the farmers, has not served its purpose. The textiles ministry has diluted the mandatory jute packaging material in the wake of lower supply by the jute mills owing to raw jute shortage.
The mill owners claim one of the main reasons for such crisis is hoarding and speculation in raw jute by a few mills and some unscrupulous stockists and traders.
In the letter, the mill owners alleged Jute Commissioner’s office is yet to launch any anti-hoarding drive under Jute and Jute Textile Control Order 2000.