EARLY TIMES REPORT
SRINAGAR, Apr 8: In a bid to ensure smooth supply of food items and discourage hoarding and black marketing, the Centre on Wednesday shot off a letter to the states and Union Territories advising them to invoke provisions of the Essential Commodities (EC) Act, 1955.
In the letter, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked the Chief Secretaries of States and UTs “to take urgent steps to ensure availability of essential goods, by invoking provisions of the the Essential Commodities (EC) Act”.
This is the follow-up action on the part of the government, as Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a review meeting held on Tuesday had asked the officials to take “swift and quick” action against those who are indulging in hoarding and black marketing.
The measures as part of the Act include fixing of stock limits, capping of prices, enhancing production, inspection of accounts of dealers and many other such actions.
“There have been reports of loss of production due to various factors, especially reduction in labour supply. In this situation, there is a possibility of inventory building/hoarding and black marketing, profiteering, and speculative trading, resulting in price rise of essential goods. The states have been asked to take urgent steps to ensure availability of these commodities at fair prices for public at large,” Bhalla said in the letter.
Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), with its orders under the Disaster Management Act, has allowed manufacture/production, transport and other related supply-chain activities in respect of essential goods like foodstuff, medicines and medical equipment.
Further, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution is authorizing States/UTs to notify orders under the EC Act, 1955 by relaxing the requirement of prior concurrence of the Central Government up to June 30, 2020.
Offences under the EC Act are criminal offences and may result in imprisonment of seven years or fine or both. State/Union Territory Governments may also consider detention of offenders under the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.