New Delhi: To prevent hoarding of pulses and check price rise, the centre on Sunday imposed stock limits on pulses held by licensed food processors, importers, exporters as well as large departmental retailers such as Big Bazaar. It has also directed state governments to intensify anti-hoarding operations and keep a check on black-marketing and profiteering by traders.
The stock limits on holding of pulses have been in place for the last few years. Recently, while extending the stock limits on the commodity for one more year till September 2016, the government had exempted these four categories. “To increase availability and prevent hoarding of pulses, government amended the central order under Essential Commodities Act, 1955 with immediate effect to enable imposition of stock limits on pulses sourced from imports, stocks held by exporters... stocks to be used as raw-materials by licensed food processors and stocks of large departmental retailers," food ministry said in a statement.
The government has now withdrawn exemptions to stocks of pulses held by these four categories, it added. The ministry said that the cabinet secretary has also been reviewing the price situation on a daily basis. “He directed all departments to keep a close watch on prices of essential commodities, especially pulses and work in close coordination with all states to control price rise. All states have been advised to intensify anti-hoarding operations and keep in check black-marketing and profiteering by traders," it added. The prices of pulses have risen unabated for the past few months due to a fall in domestic output by about 2 million tonnes (MT) to 17.20 MT in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) owing to deficient monsoon and unseasonal rains.
Retail prices of tur dal have risen by up to ₹ 190 per kg in most parts of the country, from ₹ 85 per kg a year ago. Similarly, urad dal prices rose to nearly ₹ 190 per kg from ₹ 100 per kg in the year-ago period. However, Kendriya Bhandar and Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets are selling imported tur dal at ₹ 120-130 per kg in Delhi from 16 October in order to give relief to the common man. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also started selling imported lentils. The government has imported 5,000 tonnes of tur dal through state-owned MMTC.
Tenders have been floated for import of additional 2,000 tonnes of the commodity. Last week, the government decided to buy 40,000 tonnes of pulses (tur and urad) from farmers at market rates to create a buffer stock for controlling prices. The decision followed meeting of an inter-ministerial group, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, last week. The group had decided to create a buffer stock of pulses using the price stabilisation fund (PSF) to boost supply and check prices, take strict action against hoarders and black marketers, and encourage states to lift stocks of imported pulses, among others.