New Delhi — Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has emphasised the need of coordinated action by the Union and the States to contain prices of essential food items. He said that tackling food inflation is important because, if left unchecked, it could easily distort the various initiatives already taken for revival of the economy and improvement in distributive justice. The government, he said, is therefore determined to meet this challenge in collaboration with the State governments.
Addressing the meeting of Ministers of Consumer Affairs and Food of States/Union Territories here today, Paswan said that the Center would evolve a joint strategy with the States for this purpose and will extend its implementation upto the district level.
While noting that the prices of perishable commodities do increase between July and November every year, Paswan pointed out that the government has already taken various measures to contain food inflation. He highlighted the responsibility of the States in ensuring availability of essential commodities to the people at fair and reasonable prices. He mentioned that this period also coincides with the festive season across the country and demand for essential food items reaches its peak, hence it necessary to take steps to prevent hoarding and black marketing as well as to strengthen the supply and distribution channels of essential commodities during this period.
Addressing the meeting, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan said that the government had taken important initiatives to ensure availability of pulses and oil seeds. Support price for the pulses has been increased and bonus is also being given. He assured that there would be no shortage of foodgrains in the country.
The meeting chaired by Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution was attended by Ministers and Secretaries in charge of Food and Consumer Affairs from most of the States/UTs and senior officials of various central ministries. Some significant suggestions made by States to improve the situation of short supply of food items follow. The following action plan was agreed to and adopted with the objective of maintaining the availability of essential commodities Pulses, edible oils, rice, onions, tomatoes and potatoes at reasonable prices during the six-month period between July – December 2015.
- Sustained action will be initiated against hoarding and black-marketing and States will undertake effective enforcement of the Essential Commodities Act and Prevention of Black Marketing Act.
- States will identify vulnerable areas where supply shortages occur and ensure that “stock-out” situations do not occur especially of items of common consumption.
- States will mobilize existing storage capacity utilizing the Government/private/cooperative storage infrastructure to ensure that adequate decentralized stocks are maintained across different cities/rural areas of the State to ensure adequate supplies of these commodities. States will also mobilise Food & Civil Supplies Corporations, cooperative Societies and Fair Price Shops for augmenting distribution avenues for essential food items.
- The existing Price Monitoring Cells in the States will be strengthened to monitor the prices of these specific commodities on the basis of wholesale prices at the mandis as well as the retail prices obtaining in various parts of the State. This should enable the States to make market interventions on a real time basis.
- Review of APMC Act with reference to Onions, Potatoes and Tomatoes to remove inter- state barriers to internal trade will be taken up.
The meeting recognized the importance of the effective implementation of National Food Security Act in all the States which is yet to implement by 24 States. During the meeting preparedness these States to implement the Act reviewed. States were requested to ensure implementation of the Act at the earliest. Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Kerala and Lakshadweep assured implementation of the Act by this September.