New Delhi: The government on Friday decided to sell chana (chickpea) from its buffer stock through the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) to boost domestic supplies and cool prices, while exploring the option to distribute pulses through Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) outlets.

The decision was taken at a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee on prices held under the chairmanship of consumer affairs secretary Hem Pande to review prices and availability of pulses.

Pulses prices, which had recently crossed Rs200 per kg, have declined substantially and now are selling at an average price of Rs75-120 per kg in major cities of the country. The maximum price is in the range of Rs120-170 per kg.

Subsidized pulses are already being distributed through retail outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, Safal and NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India) in Delhi and National Capital Region.

NCCF is also selling the pulses in some other metros. “It was decided that besides offering chana (chickpea) to the state governments, its significant quantity should be released immediately through NCDEX to cool down prices," an official statement said.

The inter-ministerial meeting also suggested exploring the possibility of using KVIC outlets for distribution of pulses besides postal network. “The committee was informed that department of consumer affairs is working on modalities with the department of post to start distribution of pulses through its network at the earliest," the statement said.

The centre is creating a buffer stock of 2 million tonnes of pulses through domestic procurement and imports to make intervention in the market in case of price rise. It has asked state governments to lift pulses from buffer stock and sell those to consumers at cheaper rates.

Earlier this week, cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha reviewed the availability and prices of essential commodities and asked the department of consumer affairs to consider all options to check prices of chana and sugar.

The government will import 90,000 tonnes of chana through state-owned Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India, and examine import duty on sugar to boost supply and check prices of the two essential commodities that continue to rule high.

On Thursday, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said: “We will not allow prices of chana dal and sugar to rise. We have many ways to control rates."

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