Following an assurance from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that no coercive action will be taken against them, traders in Maharashtra have agreed to resume trading operations and participate in auctions at the Agriculture Produce Market Committees of the state with effect from Tuesday, September 4.
A resolution to this effect was passed by traders at a joint meeting called by the Federation of Associations of Traders (Maharashtra), Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industries and Trade, Mumbai and the Poona Merchants Chamber (PMC) in Pune on Monday evening. Traders at the meeting added a rider and made it clear that they will purchase agricultural produce from farmers at the government-mandated MSP only if they can afford it. The meeting was attended by around 200 trader association representatives from across the state. Traders have given the government a month to clarify its position on the MSP issue and and recall the proposed amendment in the APMC Act.
Wholesale markets in Maharashtra that are dealing in commodities related to MSP – mainly pulses and grains – have remained shut for the past week with traders boycotting auctions. Traders have been protesting protesting against the state Cabinet’s decision to penalise purchases made by traders from farmers at rates below MSP with a one-year jail term in addition to a hefty fine of Rs 50,000.
Significantly, the state Cabinet had okayed the proposal to amend the APMC Act to enact such changes on August 22, 2018. However, no official GR was issued by the government leading to a lot of chaos and confusion among traders. Following stiff opposition from traders Anand Jogdand, director of agriculture marketing, issued a notification reiterating that no government resolution had been issued yet penalising traders for purchases below the government-mandated minimum support price.
Walchand Sancheti, president, Federation of Trader Associations ( Maharashtra), said that the proposed amendment by the government to penalise traders with a year’s imprisonment in addition to imposing a fine of Rs 50,000 was totally unjustified and the government should not go ahead with it.