Ensure essential goods are available during lockdown: Centre to states
In an advisory to state chief secretaries, Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has said states need to mount a watch on possible hoarding of supplies to jack up their prices.Updated: Apr 08, 2020 17:43 IST
The Union home ministry has urged states to maintain supply of essential commodities by invoking provisions of the Essential Commodities Act 1955, as a lockdown to contain the coronavirus has trimmed output of many items.
In an advisory to state chief secretaries, Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has said states need to mount a watch on possible hoarding of supplies to jack up their prices.
The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, allows states to decide how much stocks retailers or wholesalers can maintain, cap of prices, order enhanced production and inspect accounts of dealers.
There have been reports of loss of production due to various factors, the federal official said to states. “There is a possibility of inventory building and hoarding and black marketing, profiteering, and speculative trading, resulting in price rise of essential goods,” Bhalla said.
Bhalla asked states to take “urgent steps” to ensure availability of these commodities at fair prices for public at large.
The home ministry, which acts as the coordinating ministry to steer the lockdown, earlier allowed manufacture and production, transport and other related supply-chain activities in respect of essential goods like foodstuff, medicines and medical equipment under the Disaster Management Act.
“States can invoke the Essential Commodities Act without the concurrence of the Centre up to June 30, 2020,” food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a tweet.
Railways are carrying record freight from a network of state-held granaries — 150000 tonne worth of shipments daily in contrast to a usual supplies. The Centre is ferrying additional foodgrains after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package, which doubled food ration quota under (from 5kg per person under the National Food Security Act to 10kg) for the next three months. The additional 5kg is being distributed free.