New Central laws preventing us from checking prices of onion, pulses: Jharkhand Finance Minister

Minister Rameshwar Oraon says that the state government is working to bring down the prices of onions and pulses that have shot up in the last few weeks.


Price regulation has become a challenge due to the recent provisions in the centre’s new farm laws, said Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon on October 28, 2020.

The Minister said the Union government had stripped the state government’s power to enforce hoarding limits for pulses and onions at various godowns that has resulted in an unprecedented rise in prices. Oraon talked about wholesalers who had inflated prices by hoarding and then gradually releasing the two food items in the market gradually at an inflated price.

In Ranchi, the prices of masur and arhar pulses increased by Rs. 10 per kg in the past one week. The price of onions rose from Rs. 50 per kg to Rs. 80 per kg. On Wednesday, masur dal was being sold at Rs. 80 per kg, while arhar dal was sold at Rs. 125 per kg.

However, the Jharkhand government planned to come up with schemes to provide these essential commodities at a subsidized rate through the Public Distribution System although it was too early to comment on the modalities of the system.

Among the centre’s three new laws, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 gives the Union government the right to regulate supply of cereals, pulses, potato, onion and edible oilseeds, among other items in situations of war, famine, grave natural calamities and extraordinary price rise.

Farmers have objected to this provision because it gives traders the power to hoard said products as well as to refuse farmers selling such products. This affects food prices which in turn will hurt farmers’ sales.

In light of these issues, the Jharkhand government may consider introducing state laws similar to the Punjab government’s Bill seeking to restore the state’s power to regulate essential commodities and enforce hoarding limits.

The state government also planned to provide one-kilogram dal against every ration card to beneficiaries. Further, Oraon said the government was committed to preventing hoarding of onions to ensure minimal price inflation.

Last year, former Food Minister Saryu Roy made a temporary provision to provide onions at subsidised price in parts of Jharkhand.


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