The Center seeks contributions from the states to simplify the Commodity Law

New Delhi, September 3 () The central government asked the states on Tuesday for suggestions to simplify the Commodity Law of six decades, diluting certain strict provisions that currently provide for the imprisonment, even for a misdemeanor.

Union Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan, also asked states to remove legumes and onions from the central reserve stock and sell these products in retail markets to keep prices under control.

He also announced that the portability of the interstate ration card is expected to begin in January 2020 in 14 states and expressed confidence that the goal of 'One Nation One Ration Card' will be achieved in June next year as planned .

The minister was talking to the media after holding the fifth national consultation meeting of State/UT ministers to discuss various issues.

Paswan suggested that states may consider simplifying the Commodities Law, including provisions on sanctions that would put it more in tune with government policy regarding ease of doing business and promoting investment, an official statement said.

On the onion and the pulses, the minister said: We have enough reserve of pulses and onions. We have asked all States/UTs to place their demand and remove fleas and onions from reserves.

The minister reported that the Center has an inventory of 27 lakh tons of pulses and 56,000 tons of onions that states can raise for direct sale through ration shops, cooperatives, state agencies and the marketing federation.

In preparing the meeting, the Secretary of Consumer Affairs, A K Srivastava, said that States have also been advised to create a 'Price Stabilization Fund', similar to that established by the central government. He said four states already have that fund.

On the Commodity Law, the secretary said: There are criminal provisions in the law that are strict and outdated. We have asked for suggestions from States on how to simplify it.

For each violation, there is a provision for jail, he said, adding that the punishment is not consistent with the crime.

The amendment proposed in the EC Law is made in consultation with the NITI Aayog with the aim of boosting investment and the ease of doing business without compromising consumer protection, he added.

Last month, the high-power chief ministers committee on the transformation of Indian agriculture suggested amendments to the Commodities Law (ECA) saying that regulation should be applied only in extreme cases.

The ECA was established to guarantee the delivery of certain products or products, whose supply, if clogged due to hoarding or black marketing, would affect the normal life of people. This includes food, drugs, fuels (petroleum products).

Meanwhile, Paswan expressed concern about single-use plastic and said a meeting was called on September 9 to find an alternative. Industry representatives would be invited, including those that manufacture bottled drinking water.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) would also be asked to suggest an alternative, the minister said.

Two separate meetings were also convened to assess how BIS develops the standards, their implementation and also the operation of the laboratories.

Paswan said the Prime Minister in his speech on Independence Day called for a reduction in the use of plastic, so the ministry will analyze this issue. The secretary of food, Ravi Kant, reported that topics such as the comprehensive computerization of PDS, the portability of ration cards and the rice enrichment program were discussed. MJH ANZ MJH MR MR

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