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Parliament Panel asks Modi Government to Enforce Essential Commodities Act amidst Farmer Protests

Prity Barman
Prity Barman
TMC Leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay
TMC Leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay

A Parliamentary Panel has urged the government to enforce the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act in "letter and spirit"— one of the farm laws that farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders for more than 100 days. Opposition parties such as the Congress, TMC, and AAP are represented on this panel. All three farm laws recently passed by the Centre have been requested to be repealed by these parties. 

'The Standing Committee on Food, chaired by TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, recommended that the government 'implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 in letter and spirit, and without hindrances, so that farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in this country receive the benefits expected under the said Act.' 

Despite the fact that the nation has become surplus in most agricultural commodities, farmers have been unable to obtain better prices due to a lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing, and export as entrepreneurs are discouraged by regulatory mechanisms in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, according to the report. 

Farmers have suffered enormous losses as a result of this, particularly when there are bumper harvests of perishable commodities, much of which could have been avoided with adequate processing facilities, according to the panel. 

The panel also noted that the High-Powered Committee for the Transformation of Indian Agriculture had suggested that in order to boost immediate investment in the agriculture sector, increase competition, and increase farmers' income, an environment based on ease of doing business and eliminating the fear of regular statutory controls under the Essential Commodities Act was needed. 

The Committee hopes and anticipates that the recently enacted 'Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, which was enacted to address the issue, will serve as a catalyst for unlocking vast untapped resources in the agriculture sector by creating an environment for increased agriculture sector investments, fair and productive competition in agricultural marketing, and increased farmer income. 

Furthermore, the panel requested that the government keep a close eye on prices of basic commodities and take appropriate action because commodities such as potatoes, onions, and pulses are part of a common man's daily diet and that lakhs of people who do not receive PDS benefits may suffer as a result of the new Act's implementation. 

In addition, the committee requested that the government consider including more consumables in the list of essential commodities, especially those that directly affect all consumers' health and are useful for both village and city dwellers, and subsidising these products. 

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi's borders for the past 114 days, demanding the repeal of three farm laws. 

11 rounds of negotiations between the government and protesting farm unions have so far failed to produce any results, despite the government's offer to put the laws on hold for 18 months. 

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court-appointed panel is investigating the situation and is expected to issue a report soon. 

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