New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill allowing the central government to control the production, supply, distribution, trade and commerce in certain commodities with a voice vote.
However, the opposition raised objection over the structure of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, saying it favours big corporates and against the farmers, the government managed to pass it due to its majority in the Lower House.
The Bill which was promulgated on June 5 this year may impose stock limits on agricultural produce if there is a steep price rise. Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Raosaheb Dadarao Danve moved the Bill informing the amendment will encourage people linked with the supply of agriculture products and increase the investment in this field.
Citing a report of the Food Processing Ministry, the minister said the loss of agricultural products in 2012-13 was approximately Rs 92,000 crore and the maximum loss was noted in fruits and vegetable products. Mentioning that there should be a processing facility to decrease the loss of agricultural products, the minister said the Bill will help in betterment of storage facilities so that the graph of loss of such products could be lessened.
The minister said a new sub article has been added in the amended Bill under which seven essential items have been mentioned — medicine, fertiliser, edible items, kapas products, jute, petroleum products and seeds.
The government will have the power to control the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of these commodities. Saugata Roy said there have been 13 amendments in the Essential Commodities Act since 1955 but this time it is diluting the stock limits by making an amendment in the Act. “This is a bad law and Maharashtra farmers will have to suffer with this. The Bill is in favour of big corporates.”
Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N.K. Premchandran said attracting private investment in agricultural marketing and infrastructure is to increase the competitiveness and farmers’ income but they will not be benefited. “The only beneficiaries are the multinational retailers or the big corporates after the Bill is passed.”
BSP’s Kunwar Danish Ali said this bill is against the farmers and will benefit mediators. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal said that this ordinance should not be brought without consultation of the farmers. AAP’s Bhagwant Mann opposed the Bill, saying it will help in getting the supply and demand in the hands of private players. However, TDP’s K. Ram Mohan Naidu supported the Bill and said that the intention of the government is to improve the choice for farmers.