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Centre's norms on jute will trigger farmers' suicides: Mamata Banerjee

Posted on Nov 06, 10:04PM | IANS

Condemning the central government's decision to dilute reservation norms for compulsory use of jute bags for packaging food grains and sugar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday said the move would compel the farmers to commit suicide,

In a sharp attack on the Congress-led UPA dispensation, Banerjee said: "It is high time for the minority UPA-II government to go. Farmers, workers and common people are not safe under this regime."

She also demanded immediate withdrawal of the decision.

"I appeal to all my brothers and sisters of the country to unite and raise their voices against these atrocities," she wrote on social networking website Facebook.

Condemning the dilution of reservation norms for compulsory use of jute bags for packaging of food grains and sugar by 10 percent and 60 percent respectively for the year 2012-13, Banerjee said the price of raw jute has "drastically fallen" from Rs.550 to Rs.200 per quintal.

"It is a dangerous situation. The central government must not compel farmers to commit suicide," she said.

The central government Nov 2 relaxed the compulsory jute packing norms by allowing mills to pack only 40 per cent of their sugar output in jute bags this year, instead of 100 per cent.

Under the Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPMA), 1987, the government had made 100 per cent mandatory reservation for jute bags for packaging of sugar and food grains.

Banerjee said farmers of West Bengal, the largest jute-growing state and other eastern states like Bihar and Assam would suffer severely.

"Poor farmers and common people are already suffering from the onslaught of spiralling prices of basic necessities. This anti-farmer decision of the central government will add more miseries to the livelihood of millions of small and marginal jute cultivators, and workmen involved in manufacturing of jute bags," Banerjee said.