The Jute Balers Association (JBA) has approached the Calcutta High Court challenging the order of the office of the Jute Commissionner (JC) to bring down raw jute stock to up to 500 quintals from a level of 1,500 quintals, ordered earlier in August.
The 500 quintal stock order was issued on November 6, in the wake of raw jute prices, shooting up to `6,025 a quintal. The traders were hoarding raw jute and rigging prices, ultimately culminating in an increase in the Centre’s subsidy pay out. Raw jute accounts for 60% of a sacks price and the JC’s office had to take such a measure to contain the prices of sacks, required to pack Kharif crops, an official in the of the JC said.
“After issuing the November 6 order, we carried out search and seizure with the help of the state police. We seized 3,500 quintals from a godown at Kaligunj in Nadia and 1,200 quintals from another godown at Palasipara in Nadia,” a top JC official said adding that the measures taken has already started moderating raw jute prices. The price at present has stabilised at `5,700 per quintal (TD-5 grade) with supplies improving as well.
Members of the JBA said the JC’s decision was unrealistic and arbitrary and it was wrongfully excercising its power, putting a cap on the stock limit. The JC’s office also intended to put a cap on the prices of raw jute disallowing the market forces to work.
According to Bajrang Lal Hirawout, Vice President, North Bengal Jute Balers Association, running jute business with 500 quintals was an impossibility since no mill unloaded a vehicle below 150 quintals of raw jute. There are 10 types of raw jute between Tosa and White Jute (TD4-TD9) and (W3-W6) and 4 types of Mesta jute making 14 variants. “If we send one truck for each variant with 150 quintals, then it comes to sending 2,100 quintals, stocking which is not allowed,” Hirawout said.
Although the official in the office of the JC said that a section of traders stopping supplies didn’t disrupt supplies to the mills, Sanjay Kajaria, former chairman, Indian Jute Manufacturers Association (IJMA) said till Monday trucks with raw jute have been unloaded. But since JBA has gone on a strike from Monday, there are uncertainty in supplies from Tuesday onwards. “Jute mills running out of raw jute stock will depend on the stock a mill has at present. Some create stock for three months, some for one month some for 15 days. Mills’ operation will get disrupted if the strike continues for long,” Kajaria said.
IJMA chairman, Raghavendra Gupta said, the Calcutta HC will give its first hearing on November 25.