Essential Commodities Act was used to intimidate: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses the traditional ‘gamcha’ as a face cover while addressing the nation on Tuesday.

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a significant statement, said on Sunday that “legal hurdles” pertaining to essential commodities related to the agriculture business, that plagued farmers, investors and consumers alike, are being removed.

Giving specific examples of removing hurdles, he said, “On the one hand the legal hurdles are being removed and on the other hand farmers are being provided direct help. Like a law related to essentials was made decades ago, this law was made when there was a severe shortage of food grains in the country. But today there are enough stocks of food grains, so this type of prohibition also causes loss to the economy and consumer. Surprisingly, this law continues even today. Today, when we have become the second major food producer in the world, then there is no need for this law.”

Modi candidly admitted, “The use of this law led to more abuse. This has done more to intimidate the traders of the country, the investors. Now trade related to agriculture has also been freed from this fear mechanism. Calling it ‘Atma Nirbhar Krishi’, the Centre connected it to its much ambitious and much talked about concept of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’.

Thousands of FPOs, 350 agri start ups and a massive boost to small farmers – those were Modi’s thrust on Sunday morning as he launched a financing facility under Agricultural Infrastructure Fund through video conferencing.

Saying that it will not just increase the earnings in agriculture but change the agri scenario of the country, Modi said, it is India’s farmers who are to be credited for enabling the government to supply free rations to 80 crore individuals for 8 months during the coronavirus pandemic.

“So far, about 350 agricultural startups are being supported. These are related to food processing, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, manufacturing of smart farming equipment and renewable energy,” said the Prime Minister.

Launching the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, the Prime Minister underscored that it enables farmers to build warehouses for stocking their produce, promotes FPOs to build cold storage and warehouses for storing the farming produce.

“Firstly, through the e-NAM, a large technology-based system was created. Now, by making the law, the farmer has been exempted from the purview of the mandi and the mandi tax. Now the farmer has many options,” he declared.

Highlighting how all these efforts including the benefits under PM-Kisan are meant to help small farmers, he said that the Centre’s decision for a ‘record purchase’ of farmers’ produce meant an additional Rs 27,000 crore than last time has reached farmers’ pockets.

He said not only clusters would be created around villages but a 2-way system will start between villages and cities. Modi projected a scenario whereby village produce will be sent to cities where they will be turned into food products which will be sent back to villages.

He also mentioned about the Kisan Rail, “We started the ‘Kisan Rail’ between Maharashtra and Bihar, and it will benefit farmers immensely. These trains are cold-storage running on tracks. These will help farmers who deal in milk, fruits, vegetables and even fish.”

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