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Calcutta HC asks Jute Commissioner to review rate of raw jute

Workers are carrying raw materials to mill at Hukumchand Jute Mill in North 24 Parganas. File

Workers are carrying raw materials to mill at Hukumchand Jute Mill in North 24 Parganas. File | Photo Credit: Ashoke Chakrabarty

The Calcutta High Court on May 11 directed the Jute Commissioner to review and re-fix the rate of raw jute if the notified rate cannot be adhered to.

“The Jute Commissioner is directed to take positive steps and adopt stringent measures to implement the notified rate, but despite all efforts, if it appears that the notified rate cannot be adhered to, then the Jute Commissioner shall review and re-fix the rate taking into consideration the relevant factors as mentioned in the Control Order, 2016,” Justice Amrita Sinha said in the order.

In a 16-page order, the court dealt in detail with issues relating to supply chain bottlenecks, resulting in the closure of a number of jute mills. While the court observed that the Jute Commissioner is the competent authority to fix the price, it also emphasised that, “It is the bounden duty and statutory obligation of the Jute Commissioner to invoke powers conferred under the Statute for implementation of the rate notified in the Official Gazette.”

The Indian Jute Mills Association had approached the court, demanding a review of the Jute Commissioner’s notification on September 30, 2021, in which the price of raw jute was capped at ₹6,500 per quintal. Jute mill owners have been saying that they have to buy raw jute at ₹7,200 per quintal.

“The rate should not be fixed upon extraneous consideration and the same must be reviewed at frequent intervals, considering the ground realities. The Jute Commissioner should realise that the rate fixed should not be meant only for the purpose of publishing it in the official gazette but for the purpose of practical implementation of the same,” the order stated. It also directed that the Jute Commissioner should conduct regular raids, search and seizure “to prevent illegal hoarding or any nefarious activity sending out false signals of scarcity. Stern action should be taken against any/all persons found indulging in any illegal activity and acting with vested interest leading to the rise in the price of raw jute”.

The Office of the Jute Commissioner falls under the Ministry of Textile. About a dozen mills have closed down in the State, resulting in job losses to 60,000 workers because of supply chain bottlenecks. The court suggested that all the parties who are a part of the jute industry “need to adopt a holistic approach and devise means not only to save but to revive the industry which is the pride of our country, especially Bengal”.

The court raised questions as to what the reason was for such a hike in the price of raw jute, despite bumper growth. “When there is abundant supply, the price ought to have come down. The fact that the price is spiralling upward instead of coming down implies that something is going wrong somewhere. There must be some loopholes which are required to be plugged. But ‘who will bell the cat?’ is possibly the next relevant question,” the court noted.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2022 10:38:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/calcutta-hc-asks-jute-commissioner-to-review-rate-of-raw-jute/article65404996.ece