Jute mills in eastern state of West Bengal are likely to reopen soon as the Centre has urged the state government to direct them to resume their operations in order to prevent any shortage in supply of packaging materials.

The Indian Jute Mills Association and state labour department had earlier shut their operations temporarily following the state government’s lockdown directives in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter, the Union Ministry of Consumers Affairs, Food and Public Distribution told the state government that manufacturing units of packaging materials are exempted from the purview of the lockdown.

“Procurement operations of foodgrain, for which availability of packaging material like jute bales are immensely required by major procuring states like Punjab, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh and Madya Pradesh where procurement operations will begin from April and peak season is for only two-three weeks only,” the letter said.

“Therefore, it is of utmost importance that jute mills immediately resume operation to meet the requirements of the states and FCI (Food Corporation of India),” it added.

Before the lockdown was imposed, about 2 lakh mill workers use to produce 4,500 tonnes of jute products valued at Rs 50 crore per day in the state, a PTI report stated.