CPI Condemns the Scraping of Essential Commodities Act
D. RAJA, General Secretary, Communist Party of India has issued the following statement:
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday (3rd June, 2020) approved amendments to the Essential Commodities Act and an ordinance that allows traders, big corporations and value supply chains like large super markets to hold unlimited storage of stocks, and movement of agricultural commodities across the country.
The amendments are related to farmers only, concerning seeds and fertilizers. Otherwise this was totally about consumers. To say this will now benefit farmers is completely misleading. This will benefit only traders and neither farmers and consumers.
It is argued that the ordinance seeks to "create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce”. However, the ordinance will give freedom to traders and corporations to hoard create artificial shortages and sell the commodities at very high prices squeezing both farmer producers and consumers. Hoarding and creation of artificial shortages followed by multi-fold increase of prices of onions, tomatoes or fertilizers by traders and large super market chains have become a regular feature in retail markets every year. The existing Essential Commodities Act has legal provisions to arrest (with non-billable provisions) of illegal hoarders and black marketers.
This provision was included in the Essential Commodities Act after militant struggles by left parties and civil society groups against artificial shortages of food and essential commodities created by illegal hoarders and black marketers in mid-1970s.
The Essential Commodities Act can be reformed to allow food processing industry to bulk purchase and stock to meet their processing needs. The EC Act, 1955 was originally brought by British in 1945 during war-time famines against illegal hoardings and black marketers and was later enacted by Indian government in 1955.
Along with this Act the Union Cabinet has also brought amendments on agricultural markets and corporate farming which basically benefit big traders and corporations against the interests of small and marginal farmers.
Amendments in APMC legislations are made in the name of creating “One India-One market”. There is no evidence to show that deregulation of markets has ensured remunerative prices for farmers.
CPI calls upon its units to mobilize the farming community and organise protest against this anti-farmer ordinance and amendments to the existing legislations.