ABOUT THE INDUSTRY
There had been a rapid expansion of the jute industry in India around Calcutta particularly during certain boom periods. From one mill in 1855 with no looms and another mill established four years later with only 192 looms, towards the end of the first decade of the 20th Century there were 59 mills with 30,685 looms. In the year 1918, the loom strength was 39,401. During the period after the First World War, there was a further advance in the productive capacity of the industry and in 1919-20 the number of mills had increased to 76 with 41,000 looms. There had also come into existence three mills in Andhra Pradesh part of the then Madres Presidency, and one in Uttar Pradesh (formally United province). During 1919-20 fourteen mills ware registered in India showing a great development in jute industry in Bengal and according to the statistics available in the ‘Romance of Jute` the loomage was well above 50,000 in 1927. The temp of expansion continued unabated both in number of mills and in loomage irrespective of the considerations of demand and supply till about 1939-40 when there were 108 mills with 68,000 looms. There was very little expansion of the industry during the years of the Second World War; nevertheless, at the end of the war, i.e., in 1945, there ware 111 mills with an installed capacity of 68,542 looms. There has been no significant expansion ever since and the number of composite mills has now come down to 73 owing to amalgamation an closure of uneconomic units. There has however been a reduction in the loomage also and it now stands at 44162 looms. Besides these 73 jute mills, there are about 30 spinning units manufacturing ropes and twines. The industry has completed its hundred forty five years of existence. Its productive capacity has increased from 1.2 million tones per year in the first plan period to 1.4 million tons at the end of the Second Plan period and 1.6 million tones at the end of this century. There is an overwhelming concentration of he industry in West Bengal and only a sprinkling of it is to be found elsewhere in India. The reasons for this are not far to seek. Factors like an abundant supply of raw material, proximity of cola fields of Ranigunge, navigability of the Hooghly and the availability of the required type of labor in the neighborhood were all responsible for the location of industry over a stretch of about 60 mille on either side of the river Hooghly, from Bansberia to Uluberia on the West bank and from Halisahar to Birlapur on the east bank. Calcutta grew into greater prominence on account of this industry and was developed as first class port, a network of railways was laid, connecting Calcutta with the interior of the country, giant electric power supply station came up and inland water transport service developed.
Bengal and jute industry are inseparable and in fact there is such a heavy concentration of the industry in this area that one is apt to ignore the existence of the industry else ware. But due to factors such as the availability of raw materials near about, cheap labor or ready local market, small jute mills have come up in other states too. Besides 59 composite jute mills located in West Bengal, 3 mills are located each in Bihar and UP, 4 in Andhra Pradesh, 1 each in Assam, Orissa, Tripura and Madhya Pradesh. In addition there exist 3 exclusive yarn-producing units and about 30 mini jute-spinning units. Six sick and closed units were nationalized in 1980 and placed under the management of NJMC for their rehabilitation. Out of 73 composite units, 6 belongs to public sector, 5 to state sector, 1 to co—operative sector and 61 are private sector units.
Out of the country’s total loomage of 44162, only a mere 4429 looms are found distributed in places other than West Bengal. Similarly, out of 6,35,096 Spindles installed in the country, 5,07,960 has been installed in West Bengal.
The annual production of jute goods was 15.96 lake tones during 1998-99. Sacking continues to be the largest segment of production accounting for 52 percent. Hessian constitutes about 25 percent. One significant change in the product mix is the remarkable increase in production. Another welcome development has been the steady increase in production of non-traditional diversified products.