Parliament monsoon session 2020: Essential Commodities bill gets Rajya Sabha nod
Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities after the Rajya Sabha (RS) gave its nod.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, which was approved by the Lok Sabha (LS) on September 15, was passed by a voice vote in the RS. The bill replaces an ordinance that was promulgated in June.
The bill is also aimed at removing the fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.
The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply would lead to harnessing economies of scale and attract private sector and foreign direct investments in the agriculture sector, the government had said earlier. Replying to a short debate, Minister of State (MoS) for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said the stock limit conditions imposed through the law were hindering investments in the agriculture infrastructure.
The amendments to the six-and-half-decade law provides that stock-holding limit on commodities would only be imposed under exceptional circumstances such as national calamities and famine with a surge in prices, the minister said. Processors and value chain participants would be exempted from the stock limit, he added.
The minister said the move would boost investments in the agriculture sector and would also create more storage capacities to reduce loss of crops after harvest.
“This amendment is in favour of both farmers and consumers,” he added.
The changes in the 1955 law is an important step by the government to achieve its target of doubling farmers’ income and also for the ease of doing business, the minister said.
He said the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was brought when the country was not self-sufficient in food grains production. But now the situation has changed, and as a result, the amendment was required, he said.
While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investments in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export. Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities, he said.
Parliament on Tuesday also passed a legislation to declare the five new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur as institutions of national importance.
The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was introduced in the RS by education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Monday. The bill was passed by the LS in March.
(Additional reporting by PTI)