Crackdown on hoarders, ensure food supplies: Centre to states
Scrambling for efforts to check seasonal rise in prices of fruits and vegetables during the July-November period, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan held <g data-gr-id="59">day long</g> consultations with state food and consumer affair ministers while Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh sought to reassure of contingency plans being in place to tackle any situation arising out of rain deficiency.
At the meeting chaired by Paswan, a six-month action plan was chalked out to maintain supplies and check prices of pulses, edible oil, rice, onion, tomato and potato.
States were asked to monitor wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities and make market interventions on a real-time basis. They were also asked to amend Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act to remove <g data-gr-id="58">inter-state</g> trade barriers on staple <g data-gr-id="57">fooditems</g> like onions.
“We will not allow <g data-gr-id="67">unreasonable</g> increase in prices. The state governments should take stringent action to prevent hoarding and black marketing,” Paswan said.
Action against hoarding and black-marketing should be taken by states, and they have also been directed to identify vulnerable areas where supply shortages occur and ensure that ‘stock-out’ situations do no occur especially of items of common consumption, he said. The Union government on its part said it is considering <g data-gr-id="72">import</g> of 5,000 tons of urad dal, on top of a similar quantity of <g data-gr-id="65">tur</g>/<g data-gr-id="64">arhar</g> <g data-gr-id="66">dal</g> currently being imported.
Paswan said <g data-gr-id="68">export</g> price of onions has already been hiked to ensure domestic availability and price check. “We do not want to create unnecessary panic. We do not want to impose inspector raj. We have given powers to states to act against hoarders,” he said, adding that 24 states and UTs have been asked to roll out food security law by September.
Radha Mohan Singh assured of a contingency plan being in place in case of deficient rains, which irrigate 55 <g data-gr-id="69">per cent</g> of the crop in India. “So far, monsoon rains were better than expected although there is a forecast of deficit rains this year too. Farmers need not panic. We are ready with contingency plans to tackle any possible impact of poor rains on <g data-gr-id="70">kharif</g> crops,” he said. As per the action plan, Paswan said, states will mobilise Food and Civil Supplies Corporations, Cooperative Societies and Fair Price Shops for augmenting distribution avenues for essential food items.
The Price Monitoring Cells in states will be strengthened to monitor wholesale as well as retail prices of specific commodities. The price information should enable states to make market interventions on a real time basis.
However, Paswan assured that “there is no need to worry.
There is adequate foodgrain stock to meet domestic demand”. He also said that prices have increased only in case of pulses and onion. Singling out hoarding as a major factor for the price rise, he suggested that states should be proactive in taking steps to prevent further spike, especially during the lean period - July to November.
Hoarders and black marketeers normally get active in this period taking advantage of a demand-supply mismatch, he said.
Paswan said state governments should come out with state-level action plans to combat the issue. Consumer Affairs Secretary C Viswanath said, “From June onwards, generally, we see <g data-gr-id="77">rise</g> in prices of some essential commodities. We have already seen <g data-gr-id="76">increase</g> in prices of pulses. To boost supply, we are considering <g data-gr-id="75">import</g> of 5,000 tonnes of <g data-gr-id="62">urad</g>.”
He said good monsoon and relatively high support prices of pulses compared to other crops is encouraging farmers to sow pulses in more area in this <g data-gr-id="61">kharif</g> season, which could also help check prices of lentils.
Bring law to check price hike: <g data-gr-id="91">haryana</g> tells centre
Haryana government has urged the Central government to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to check price hike of essential commodities. A stringent law should also be enacted to check hoarding and formulation of a long-term scheme to increase production. This was stated by Haryana Food and Supplies Minister Ram Bilas Sharma during a meeting with Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday. Making an announcement, Ram Bilas Sharma who is also Haryana tourism minister, said the state government is going to implement a new scheme to provide subsidised food to the pilgrims coming to the sacred Braham <g data-gr-id="94">Sarovera</g>.