New Delhi: The Essential Commodities Act was enacted in 1955 by Parliament to ensure that the delivery of certain commodities don’t get blocked by hoarding or blackmarketing. The government used this act to regulate the production, supply and the distribution of certain products to make them available to consumers at a fair price. For example, during the initial days of the COVID-19 breakout, N-95 masks, hand sanitisers were declared essential commodities so that no one can hoard them creating, leading to an artificial crunch in the market. Also Read - Already Battling Cancer, India Boxing Legend Dingko Singh Now Tests Positive For Coronavirus
The list of such items include drugs, fertilisers, pulses, edible oils, petroleum, food etc. If the Centre notifies some item as essential, hoarding those can draw penal measures. The list gets modified from time to time. Also Read - Unlock 1 Begins Today: Will Salons, Parlours Open? What About Shopping Malls? -- Your Answers Here
In today’s speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that there is a need to amend the Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers. The list has become outdated. Agriculture foodstuffs, including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes will be deregulated. This means that these items are now out of the purview of the Act. Also Read - Unlock I Begins; India Now Seventh Worst-hit Country in World With Over 1.82 Lakh COVID-19 Cases
When the Act was brought, it was days of scarcity, the finance minister said explaining why items like potatoes, onions were under the Act. “Stock limit will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with surge in prices,” the FM said adding that no stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participants, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the export demand.