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Minister stick for hoarders

Food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak has called for stringent action against black marketeers and hoarders despite the chief minister’s alleged stand of going slow on them.

Rajak also blamed the Centre for not having formulated a law to curb the menace.

On Wednesday, Rajak said: “Bihar had given the proposal to the Centre to introduce stringent laws against black marketing and hoarding. At present, those caught in the criminal act are prosecuted under Section VII of the Essential Commodities Act. But the state government had called for stricter laws, including making the act a non-bailable offence. However, the Centre has been sitting on the proposal for two months now. It seems that the central government does not have the guts to implement what it promised.”

On Tuesday, Manjhi had said small traders involved in black marketing for the cause of their family wouldn’t be punished. The chief minister was speaking at a function organised by the Bihar State Foodgrain Businessmen’s Association at Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

“I know that the small traders are also engaged in black marketing. If they are doing so for the sake of their families and children, I am okay with it and I thank them for it,” Manjhi had said.

Asked for his reaction on the chief minister’s statement on black marketing, Rajak said Manjhi was a simple man with a rural background and his statement was in a different context.

“He wanted to say the state government and Centre should concentrate on prosecuting big traders indulging in black marketing worth crores. Hoarding and black marketing are offences,” Rajak said.

Reacting to a query on the state’s plan to crack the whip against black marketeers, Rajak said the state government would not be making any laws by itself to put a check on hoarding in the state. “We have been saying this and stand by it. We will implement the laws formulated by the Centre,” he said.

On June 3, the government had rejected the Centre’s decision, which gave the state governments authority to fix a limit on the quantity of essential commodities to be stocked.