Mamata Banerjee writes to Prime Minister Modi alleging the farm laws encouraged hoarding of essential commodities, leading to inflation

Published : November 09, 2020 21:26 IST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that the recently enacted farm laws are encouraging the hoarding of essential commodities, resulting in escalation of their prices. She has urged the Centre to intervene as the new laws have “effectively usurped the powers of the State government in facilitating the supply, distribution and sale of essential food items to common people and regulating unscrupulous market forces that encourage hoarding, profiteering….” The three recent farm laws are 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.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister dated November 9, Mamata Banerjee wrote: “…as per the amendments in the Essential Commodities Act, the cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes are removed from the list of essential commodities. The amendments are seriously encouraging hoarders in hoarding and profiteering on essential items like potato, onion etc. thereby resulting into price rise and consequent sufferings to the consumers and the common people.” She states in the letter that the “exorbitant” prices of essential household vegetables in recent weeks “have already made them unaffordable for common people” and that the Central government is showing “no signs” of regulating them or ensuring adequate supply of essential commodities.

“We 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 interest of farmers and consumers,” she wrote in the letter.

Mamata Banerjee has claimed that the laws have tied the State government’s hands in dealing with the growing crisis and has appealed to the Centre to intervene. “Otherwise, the power of State government be restored for exercising control over the production, supply, distribution and sale of agricultural commodities, or the State is permitted to bring about an appropriate legislation in this regard,” she wrote.

She pointed out that “in a similar situation in 2014 and 2015”, the State government was able to effectively control the crisis “using the authority then vested upon the State government 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 in the letter.

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