CM seeks reduction in prices or restoration of state's power to exercise control
Kolkata: Stating that the Centre's move of amending the Essential Commodities Act has bulldozed the state's power and its "adverse impact" can already be felt in terms of "availability and prices" of essential agricultural commodities, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting either to control hoarding to check the escalating prices of these commodities or to restore power to state governments to undertake the same.
Chief Minister had raised concern over the skyrocketing of prices of essential commodities mainly of potato and onion due to the amendment of the Act a few days ago.
In her four-page letter Banerjee has stated that "in view of the seriousness of the matter, I would urge the Central government to urgently step in to control hoarding, to increase supply and to bring down the rising prices of essential commodities, as public is facing acute crisis. 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 appropriate legislation in this regard".
Seeking the Prime Ministers intervention in this regard, Banerjee has further stated in her letter that "as the state government being now devoid of its powers cannot be expected to remain a silent spectator to the ongoing sufferings of the common people, due to extraordinary price rise of potato and onion-like essential commodities".
The Bengal government has already issued West Bengal Onion (Storage Control) Order and another similar order for other essential commodities to carry out raids by enforcement agencies to curb its hoarding. Already, officers of the Enforcement Branch of the Kolkata Police and state police have been conducting raids at different markets since Saturday.
Stating about the concern raised by her with the enactments of the Acts "were hurriedly made without adequate thought process or discussions and consultations with the states", Banerjee maintained in her letter that "Since the regulatory powers to curb price rise and hoarding are now under the Central Government without adequate enforcement mechanisms conferred upon the State Government, the people of the state are facing shortage and high prices of common food items in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic."
"What we can now apprehend from the present situation, that another disaster is forthcoming with extraordinary rise in prices of essential commodities. During winter months, supply of vegetables usually increases. But the prices of other vegetables are also rising, being influenced with the exorbitant rise in the price of potato and onion, leaving the common people in the midst of another crisis," Banerjee stated in the letter.