Parliament passes the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill

(File photo)

New Delhi (NVI): The Rajya Sabha today passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020, to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.

The bill was earlier introduced by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao in the Lok Sabha on September 14 this year to replace ordinances promulgated on June 5.

The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on September 15 was approved by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha today.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill is aimed at removing fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said in a statement.

The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector or foreign direct investment into agriculture sector, it added.

The ministry stated that the government while liberalizing the regulatory environment, has also ensured that interests of consumers are safeguarded. It has also been provided in the Amendment, that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated.

However, the installed capacity of a value chain participant and the export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such stock limit imposition so as to ensure that investments in agriculture are not discouraged, the ministry said.

Speaking on the bill, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said that this amendment is required to prevent wastage of agri-produce due to the lack of storage facilities.

“The amendment will create a positive environment not only for farmers but also for consumers and investors and will definitely make our country self-reliant,” the minister said.

Dadarao further said that this amendment will strengthen the overall supply chain mechanism of the agriculture sector, adding that, it will also help to achieve the government’s promise to double the farmer’s income by promoting investment in this sector and promote ease of doing business.

Furthermore, the ministry said, while India has become surplus in most Agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export.

“Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities,” the ministry said.

The legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain. It will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability and will create competitive market environment and prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.