SILCHAR, Aug 19: The tiol Jute Board’s decision to set up a jute technology park, the first of its kind in Northeast, at Santipur under rsingpur block of Cachar, 22 km from here, in 2010 was indeed a novel and bold initiative. It raised a lot of hope for the most backward region of the southern Assam for generating employment opportunities and also for creating avenue for skill development. The venture came to take shape as Assam Golden Fibre Jute Park Pvt. Ltd. on a plot of 36 bighas of land doted by the local people for the benefit of all.
Backed up by the Board, infrastructure facilities have been built up and around 1000 women from self help groups (SHG) combined together to make it operatiol and also a source of sustence not only for themselves but also for keeping the venture kicking. It has come as a relief to the unemployed women to engage themselves in the making of diversified jute products. Besides, they have built up ground level employment opportunities in order to strengthen themselves economically. One of the areas of concern is the scarce availability of raw materials, efforts are going on to link up with agriculturists producing jute in the valley.
The jute park has great prospect as geo-textile is in high demand in the country. This is being used by the tiol Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and PWD (Roads) to stabilize the land mass in highly active landslide zones. This has been used in the seismically active area and accident prone zone of Sopur along NH 6 and quite recently in the most disturbed hilly BG track at Migrendisa on Badarpur-Lumding hill section. The much maligned and criticized stretch of NH 6 from Churaibari, the border point of Tripura, to Karimganj is now being repaired and improved with the use of jute geo-textile as stated by Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of PWD, Excise and Fisheries, during his Independence Day speech here.
Besides, efforts are on to install looms in the Park to produce jute cloth. Quite strange, as Nilotpal Choudhury, maging director of the Park, said during the UPA Government, Rs.400 crore was allotted for geo-textiles for north east states for use in road and highways. According to his information, the entire fund remained unutilized and was returned to the Centre. Of gratification is the fact that this valley is known for black silvery jute production which besides being of quality has much economic value. He admitted after initial back up, the tiol Jute Board developed cold feet and left the park to fend for itself, raising question about the fate of the large force of trained women.
But, with the installation of Modi led NDA Government, Nilotpal Choudhury appreciated the seriousness of the tiol Jute Board and Union Textile Ministry to make the jute product a tiol subject. Much hope has now been generated to give a new direction and dimension to the potential jute park and agriculturists being encouraged to produce jute in their own way. One of the problems faced by the Park is about raw materials as Pompa Das, secretary, Women SHG, said, “Owing to the dearth of raw materials, we apprehend our production might get a jerk.”
It is relevant to point out that the women engaged in jute products have formed their own organization under the banner of “Patshilpi Sangstha”. But, in the midst of hope and despair, it is gratifying that the Jute Board has decided to set up at least 50 units of modern industrial and handicrafts goods. Once they become operatiol, biodegradable jute fashion bags, high-tech geo-textiles and particle boards can be produced. It is also proposed to produce textiles using handlooms such as saris, kurtas, frocks and other types of trendy clothes for marketing in the valley and beyond.
The eco-jute park is also able to produce 300 metric tons of different types of the eco-friendly jute and other textiles. If everything goes well, the park will provide both permanent and temporary jobs for over 1500 skilled youths in the region. After all the infrastructure and facilities put up in the Park, the road link of 3 km from tiol Highway 54 is in bad shape and calls for immediate repair and improvement. Saswati Mukherjee, president of Patshilpi Sangstha, pointed out, “Despite all the reverses, drawbacks and bottlenecks, we shall go on working hard for keeping the project moving and ensure quality products in the larger interests of the skilled women and the economy of Barak Valley.”
It needs no repetition that Prime Minister rendra Modi has been stressing on skill development, acknowledging the immense youth talent which only wants opportunity. He laid stress on linking apprenticeship and entrepreneurship. The eco-park has all the potentiality and it needs just incentives from the tiol Jute Board and Textile Ministry and also a transparent and accountable functioning of the magement of the Park.