In a decision aimed at benefitting farmers in states like West Bengal, Assam and Odisha, the Cabinet has decided to extend the norms for mandatory packaging of 100% food grains and 20% sugar in diversified jute bags to give an impetus to the industry, an official release said.
The Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also mandated that initially, 10% of the indents of jute bags for packing food grains would be placed through a reverse auction on the government e-marketplace portal. This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery, it said.
“This is a big decision to boost the demand for jute,” Union information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said, adding that the imports were becoming more expensive.
The government has expanded the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. In case of any shortage or disruption in supply of jute packaging material, the textile ministry can relax these provisions further, the release said.
With nearly 370,000 workers and hundreds of thousands of farmer families dependent on the jute sector, the government has been making concerted efforts for its development — increasing the quality and productivity of raw jute, diversification of jute sector and also boosting and sustaining demand for jute products, the statement said. The Cabinet decision will benefit farmers and workers located in the eastern and north-eastern regions of the country, particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura, it added.
The Cabinet has also hiked the price of ethanol extracted from sugarcane for doping in petrol by up to ₹3.34 per litre as it looked to ramp up the programme. It raised the price of ethanol extracted from sugarcane juice to ₹62.65 per litre from ₹59.48 beginning December 2020. The Union Cabinet also approved a project to ensure maintenance and improvement of 736 dams in 19 states in the next 10 years. Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that phases two and three of the programme will be completed under a 10-year plan at a total cost of ₹10,211 crore.