March 21, 2021 11:49:33 am
A day after a Standing Committee report that asked the government to implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 in “letter and spirit” was tabled in Parliament, the farmer unions sought its immediate withdrawal terming it “inhumane”, “anti-urban and rural poor” and against the common consumers.
The report, they said, has brought to fore the “real face” of the opposition parties that claim to be supporting farmers’ protest. The panel that submitted the report also has members from opposition parties including Congress, TMC and AAP. These parties have been demanding repeal of all three farm laws enacted by the Centre recently.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 unions leading the farmers’ agitation, alleged that the ECAA allows “unlimited private hoarding and black marketing”.
“It must not escape attention that the ECAA makes a wholly anti-poor recommendation that food, which is the most essential item for the survival of human beings, should be removed from the list of essential commodities. It allows unlimited private hoarding and black marketing. It will lead to the winding up of the PDS facilities and structures,” the SKM said in a statement.
It added that the implementation of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act will “expose 75 crore beneficiaries to open market purchase of food requirements, promoting Corporate and MNCs in food markets”.
An expert from the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Ludhiana, requesting anonymity, said, “This is the real face of the political parties. This law’s implementation will affect both farmers and common consumers, especially the poor and those living under the poverty line. Since the Act allows big companies to store any quantity, it will lead to hoarding and artificial shortage,” said.
He said there used to be several regulatory tools with the government in the earlier Essential Commodities 1955 – licensing, price control, compulsory licensing, stocking, information collection and produce for inspection records, entry/search/examination of premises and seizure etc – but the new law hardly speaks on any of them.
The SKM said, “It is entirely disgraceful that many parties which have been claiming support to farmers agitation for repeal of three farm laws have voted for the implementation of the ECAA. This exposes a wider consensus amongst these parties on these laws. We appeal to the committee to withdraw these recommendations”.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary, BKU Ekta (Dakaunda) said that as per the media reports none of the opposition leaders, who were the member of this committee, opposed the implementation of the Act. “What was the need of getting this nod from the standing committee in hurry when farmers’ protest was going on and also when the talks between the government and farmers on the agri laws are expected,” he added he.
“Instead of solving this matter, the government is creating confusion with such action,” said Jagmohan, adding that the laws was not only anti-farmer, anti-consumer but inhumane too as it will hit the urban and rural poor consumers. “People will die of hunger if this is implemented,” he added.
“When the unlimited stocking of the essential commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseed, onion, potato will be allowed, it will lead to price rise only. The common consumer will feel the burden of the high price of essential goods,” said Prof Gian Singh, a farm expert, adding that now government has excluded all these food items from the list of essential commodities and will regulate these only under extraordinary circumstance such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity..
He further said that Companies will now have freedom to stock any amount of food commodities and they will build huge storage and processing facilities, and build complete market domination.
Farmers’ body seeks withdrawal of par panel’s recommendation on implementing one of 3 agri laws
Meanwhile, the SKM has called “Bharat Bandh” on March 26. The Morcha, which held a meeting on Saturday, also decided that on 22 March, meetings of public organizations will be held at the district level across the country.
It was decided that during the ‘Bharat Bandh’ on March 26, all services except emergency services will be inactive from 6 am to 6 pm, and road and rail transport will be blocked, the SKM said.
It said on March 28, copies of three agricultural laws will be burnt in ‘Holika Dahan’ and on April 5, farmers will ‘gherao’ offices of Food Corporation of India across the country from 11 am to 5 pm.
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