Centre asks states to act against pulses’ hoarders
In the wake of sudden spurt in the prices of pulses, the Centre has cracked a whip on states and directed them to act against hoarders. According to sources, the issue of hike in the rates of lentils was discussed in a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday.
“The government is closely monitoring the rising prices of pulses and states have been directed to check hoarding of essential commodities. There has been a rise in the prices of pulses in the recent past and the government has imported it to meet the growing demand,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said soon after the Cabinet meeting.
The decision in this regard was taken days after Millennium Post reported that like in 2015, the price of popular pulses would breach the Rs 250 per kg mark as there is a deep involvement of corporate giants in the trade.
In the report titled –Pricey pulses to burn hole in pockets again?–Millennium Post had reported that prices of various pulses might escalate further as the urad dal has already crossed Rs 200 mark.
Overlooking the present market scenario, the Centre has claimed that the prices of pulses would be under control as several steps have been taken in this regard. Citing the Agriculture Ministry’s second estimate, the government has claimed that pulses production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous years production of 17.15 million tonnes.
The data provided by Agriculture Ministry’s on pulses’ production has been outrightly rejected by traders. Commenting on the production estimate, The Bangalore Wholesale Food Grains & Pulses Merchants’ Association president Ramesh Chandra Lahoti said, “The production of pulses is not as government is estimating. The total production is set to remain between 15 MT to 16 MT, which will allow hoarding of essential commodity by major players to get maximum benefit of the crisis.”
“Instead of making raids at places of small traders, state governments should scan the warehouses of major players like Reliance, Tata, Adani, Edelweiss, etc. Small traders act as just distributors,” Lahoti said.
India is the world’s largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports.
Meanwhile, as per the Wholesale Price Index data for March, released on Monday, prices of pulses continued to remain high –up 34.45 per cent from year-ago levels –making it the 15th straight month of double-digit inflation in lentils, though several other essential kitchen staples have seen moderation in rates.
As per data maintained with the consumer affairs ministry on Wednesday, urad is available at Rs 177 per kg, tur Rs 163, moong Rs 123, masoor Rs 105 and gram Rs 83. Last month, urad cost Rs 172, tur Rs 160, moong Rs 122, masoor Rs 98 and gram Rs 74 per kg in most retail markets, the data showed.