Centre plans to amend two acts to curb hoarding

Bhubaneswar: The Centre plans to amend two Central acts to curb hoarding of certain essential commodities like potato and onion.

“We are planning to amend Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and Prevention of Black Marketing Act, 1980 in order to curb hoarding of essential food items,” Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here.

Paswan said this was after realising the plight of people of Odisha as the state struggled to get required quantity of potato from West Bengal and onion from Maharashtra. “We want to place stringent laws so that none will dare to indulge in black marketing of essential items,” the Union Minister said.

The Centre has already sought views of all the states on the matter of amendment of the two acts, Paswan said.

The Centre wanted to make the offenders under the Essential Commodities Act undergo at least one year imprisonment instead of six months. “The Centre also wanted to make the offences non-bailable,” Paswan said.

Replying to a question on West Bengal restricting the transportation of potato to Odisha, Paswan said this should not happen in a federal state.

Paswan, who reviewed the progress in implementation of the National Food Security Act, said Odisha government has been working on it. Though only 11 states so far have implemented the NFSA, the Centre has told them to do it as soon as possible.

On Odisha government’s demand for subsidised rice for 4.67 lakh tribal and dalit school students, Paswan said, “The Centre is presently providing rice for 65,000 students. We will now certainly consider the state government’s demand.”

He also assured the state government that there would not be any problem for provision of foodgrains for the cyclone Hudhud-affected people in southern Odisha. “India has enough foodgrains. People in need would be provided grains,” he said.

Terming Odisha as a rice surplus state in Eastern India, Paswan also said the storage capacity in the state would soon be augmented. Storage capacity will be increased by 40,000 metric tonnes, he said, adding that Food Corporation of India has been asked to make space in its godowns to store additional paddy being procured by the state.