THE Federation of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) has challenged the recent ordinance promulgated by the state government which has not only delisted the trade in fruits and vegetables but also changed the way commission is charged. In its plea, the federation has said that the recent ordinance will put in jeopardy the very existence of APMCs across the state.
The marketing reforms ushered in by the state government has drawn serious flak from traders who claimed it would was detrimental to them. Both wholesale and retail traders went on strike earlier this month to protest the move.
The strikes were called off after the state government announced the formation of a committee which is supposed to submit its report in the first week of August. The main bone of contention of traders is the way the government shifted the payment of commission from the farmers to the buyer. Traders argued that it is impractical and would put their business in danger.
Former NCP MLA Dilip Mohite-Patil, who is also the president of the federation, said that their challenge has been filed on multiple grounds. “While the Assembly is in session, the state government took the route of an ordinance which is not good. Instead of an ordinance, the government should have debated the changes and passed it with the strength of their majority,” he said.
Mohite-Patil said that the ordinance is unclear on crucial points. “The ordinance has spoken about delisting all agricultural produce which includes food grains too. But the government said that it would delist only fruits and vegetables. We need clarity on the matter,” he said.
The MLA said that the existence of market committees is in jeopardy because of the ordinance. “In case of free trade, the market committees would loose their only source of incomes. Without income, we would not be able to repay loans that we have taken from banks to create infrastructure,” he said. Although the government has promised to help market committees with aid, it is yet to be put on paper.
Mohite-Patil also said that since the ordinance has come into force, prices of agricultural produce has fallen. “Traders are intentionally lowering the prices as they do not want to run the risk of non-recovery of commission from the buyer,” he said. The High Court has issued notices to the state government and given it two weeks to file its say.