Mamata seeks PM's intervention to control prices of essential

·3-min read

commodities, asks for restoring states' power (Adding quotes and details) Kolkata, Nov 9 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently intervene to control hoarding, increase supply and to bring down the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.

Banerjee, who is among the most vocal critics of the BJP-led government at the Centre, also urged the prime minister to restore the states' power to control prices of essential food items, like potato and onion which was 'usurped' following the amendments in The Essential Commodities Act.

'In view of the seriousness of the matter, I would urge the Central Government to urgently step in to control hoarding, to increase supply and to bring down the rising prices of essential commodities, as public is facing acute crisis. Otherwise, the power of the state governments be restored for exercising control over the production, supply, distribution and sale of agricultural commodities,' she wrote in her four-page missive to the prime minister.

Banerjee also urged Modi to permit the states 'to bring about an appropriate legislation in this regard'.

Referring to the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, the letter said 'We (state governments) had raised our serious concerns that these enactments were hurriedly made without adequate thought process or discussion and consultation with the states.

'The adverse impact of these new Central Acts upon the farmers and consumers in terms of availability and prices of essential agricultural commodities is already visible now, as these Acts are against the interests of farmers and consumers,' Banerjee wrote.

The Trinamool Congress supremo also mentioned that the amendments in the Essential Commodities Act have removed the cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. These were 'seriously encouraging hoarders in hoarding' thereby resulting into price rise and consequent sufferings to the consumers and the common people.

'Moreover, the amendments, have effectively usurped the powers of the state government in facilitating the supply-chain disruptions putting common people to huge discomfort. Only the central government has the power to regulate these agri-products,' she wrote to the PM.

Banerjee referred to a similar situation in 2014-15 and said it was effectively control using the authority then vested upon the state governments under the Essential Commodities Act.

'It is unfortunate that without proper planning and developing mechanisms to control hoarding and profiteering, the power of state has been bulldozed,' she said.

'Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, I would seek your kind and urgent intervention, as the state governments being now devoid of its powers cannot be expected to remain silent spectator to the ongoing sufferings of the common people due to extraordinary price rise of potato and onion-like essential commodities,' she wrote.

Banerjee had last week expressed similar concerns over the steep rise of essential commodities and said that she would be writing to the prime Minister to ensure that the people could buy the essential foodstuff they need.

She had termed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act in which potatoes and onions were removed from the list of key food commodities as 'anti-people'.

The Chief Minister had said that the price of potatoes and onions are rising at a time when people have lost their jobs due to the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Parliament had on September 23 passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. PTI SCH KK KK KK