Faced with stiff opposition from traders, the director of marketing has tried to clear the air about the amendment to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (Development and Regulation), Act 1963.
In an office order issued on Saturday, Anand Jogdand, Director of Agriculture Marketing, reiterated that no Government Resolution (GR) had been issued yet penalising traders for purchases below the government-mandated Minimum Support Price (MSP).
For the last few days, wholesale markets in Maharashtra have wore a deserted look as traders have kept away. Traders are protesting against the state Cabinet’s decision to penalise below-MSP trade with a year in jail as well as a hefty fine of Rs 50,000. Interestingly, the state Cabinet had okayed the proposal to amend the APMC Act to enact such changes. But the official GR for it has not been issued. Contradictory signals have been coming from various sources in the government regarding the move, which has not helped the situation.
On their part, the traders have demanded a clarification from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself. Walchand Sancheti, chairman of the Federation of Association of Traders, said the future course of action would be decided in the meeting called by traders in Pune on Monday.
Sancheti said the amendment was not tenable as it goes against the very basics of markets, which works on the principle of supply and demand. “In case the government is serious about implementing MSP, it should ensure that a proper procurement mechanism exists on ground, which will allow the government to buy the produce at MSP from farmers,” he said.
In view of the traders’ protest, the director of marketing has also issued directions to the district deputy registrars (DDRs) and others to ensure that auction starts. Market committees have also been issued directions to ensure that they take steps to restart the markets. As per the existing provisions of the APMC Act, traders who refuse to participate in the auctions can end up losing their licences to operate.
Sancheti said that the action by the director of marketing was in view of the demands made by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, which has sought reopening of the markets.