Action against hoarders of edible oils, oilseeds to keep tab on price rise

by IANS |

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Cooking oil hoarding in Maharashtra and that of soybeans and mustard seeds in Madhya Pradesh has prompted the Centre to invoke actions under the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act 1955, officials said on Tuesday.

Prices of cooking oil are on an upwards swing globally due to the Ukraine-Russia war. "The domestic prices of edible oils have been following the international suit and the prices have increased considerably over the past one month which may be attributed to the current geopolitical condition," officials said.

Inspections have revealed very large hoardings of soybean and mustard seeds in Dewas, Shajapur and Guna districts of Madhya Pradesh. "These seeds were much above the stock limit prescribed by the government. Hoarding of seeds has pushed up the prices of soybean oil. The state government has been asked to step in to take necessary action under the EC Act, 1955," Department of Food & Public Distribution said.

Similarly, in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, large quantities of edible oils were found in excess of the prescribed quantities of the control order. Wholesalers and big chain retail outlets were the main violators. "The state governments have been requested to take corrective measures in accordance with the relevant sections of the EC Act," officials said.

Over the weekend, teams have been sent to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Gujarat and Delhi, the officials said, adding, "Inspection is ongoing in the remaining five states."

The state governments of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have also been requested to ensure that supply chain is not affected while taking action under EC Act.

In order to ensure strict enforcement of the Central Order of March 30 and February 3, the Central teams from the Department of Food & Public Distribution have been deputed to conduct surprise inspections of the stocks of edible oils & oilseeds held by retailers, wholesalers, big chain retailers and processors in major oilseed producing and consuming states.

The Government of India has taken several proactive steps in the last few months to stabilise the prices of edible oils in the country, including declaration of stocks by all stockholders of edible oils and oilseeds under the Essential Commodities Act (EC Act), 1955.

In order to curb price escalation on account of hoarding and resultant artificial scarcity of edible oils, which is a basic necessity in the food basket, the Government of India has notified a Central Order on March 30 that amended the 'Removal of Licensing Requirements, Stock Limits and Movement Restrictions on Specified Foodstuffs Order, 2016' and its Central Order dated February 3 by extending the stock limits for all Edible Oils and Oilseeds put together for a period up to December 31 for all states/union territories. This order is effective from April 1 up to December 31, 2022

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