Revamping Food Laws

Published: June 15, 2019

The Governing Council of the NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will look at the proposal of the NITI Aayog to reform the food laws.

Proposals at the Table

  • NITI Aayog has recommended the scrapping of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 framed during the era of food scarcity since it has become an impediment in the free movement of commodities given that the country is now self-sufficient in most.
  • Replacing of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities (PBMSEC) Act, 1980 with a modern statute to balance the interests of farmers, consumers and supply chain participants.
  • Classifying commodities under the Essential Commodities Act into two categories: Priority One drugs, petroleum/petroleum products, and fertilizers; and Priority Two foodstuffs and seeds of agricultural produce.
  • Priority ones would continue to witness some controls whereas those under the category of priority two to be decontrolled with a caveat that controls may be imposed in exceptional circumstances like war, severe natural calamities or steep fall in production or a sharp rise in prices.
  • Doing away with the imprisonment provision and instead adopting punishments through monetary penalties for any contravention.

NITI Aayog states that the restrictions under the Essential Commodities Act deter large scale investments in the sector and situation needs to be corrected by providing for greater market forces to ensure supply of essential commodities to the public.

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