Essential Commodities Act, 1955

The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was enacted to ensure the easy availability of essential commodities to consumers and to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders. The Act provides for the regulation and control of production, distribution and pricing of commodities, which are declared as essential for maintaining or increasing supplies or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices.

Exercising powers under the Act, various Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government and State Governments/Union Territory administrations have issued Control Orders for regulating production, distribution, price and other aspects in relation to the commodities declared as essential.


There are seven broad categories of essential commodities covered by the Act. These are (1) Drugs; (2) Fertilizer, inorganic, organic or mixed; (3) Foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oils; (4) Hank yarn made wholly from cotton; (5) Petroleum and petroleum products; (6) Raw jute and jute textile; (7) (i) seeds of food-crops and seeds of fruits and vegetables; (ii) seeds of cattle fodder; and (iii) jute seeds. Recently cotton seed was also included in the list.
 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 2nd july,2014 has approved the inclusion of onion and potato under the purview of stock holding limits under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. 

This will empower the State Governments to undertake de-hoarding operations and to control the prices of onions and potatoes.

This decision is expected to help in the efforts being taken to tackle the problem of rising prices and also improve the availability of these commodities to the general public especially vulnerable sections.The Central Government has already delegated powers by empowering State Governments to fix stock holding limits etc., as per local conditions and to undertake de-hoarding operations commensurate with the objective of the Central orders.

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