The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) strongly opposes theamendments to the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) removing commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commoditiesand two more ordinances regarding agricultureapproved by the Union Cabinet.The amendments remove all regulations and controls on pricing and availability of essential items benefitting private players and agribusinesses, thereby adversely affecting the food security of our country.
The ECA helped in preventing hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities, especially in times of crises. It has been our experience that big traders resort to hoarding to create artificial scarcity and hike retail prices.State governments will have no control over the operations under ECA in future. The BJP government has contradicted itself when stating that the above essential items can be regulated in critical situations while stating in the same breath that the installed capacity of a value chain participant and export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such stock limit imposition. This will encourage speculation and futures trading.
The literal dismantling of the APMCs will leave farmers and women in agricultural activities unprotected and at the mercy of the manipulations of big business houses and multinational companies.The government has made its intentions clear by abetting the stranglehold over agriculture by agribusiness, corporate houses, traders and speculators who will crush both the farmer and the consumer. It has explicitly revealed its rabid pro-corporate policies and total unconcern for the majority of the starving, hungry and poor sections, especially women of the country, all of whom are at present in a terribly distressed situation. The amendment will lead to deregulation of prices of essential commodities and a rise in the cost of living when the unplanned lockdown and the Covid pandemic has led to massive unemployment and loss of income.The ECA amendment will totally destroy the public distribution system which is already gasping for breath. This will adversely affect nutrition in poor households.
The Modi government has cast aside all pretentions of democracy by approving these ordinances and amendment without consulting the parliamentary committee on agriculture or any of the state governments. It is anti-Constitutional and authoritarian.
AIDWA demands that these ordinances and amendment to ECA be immediately withdrawn and calls upon all its units to hold countrywide protests on June 10.