Strict action against pulse hoarders: Centre

The Centre asked state governments to take strict action against traders hoarding pulses.

Source: PTI

The Centre, on Wednesday, said it is monitoring prices of pulses and has asked state governments to take strict action against traders hoarding pulses.

Although retail prices of pulses have cooled from the last year's level of Rs 200 per kg, rates of lentils are still ruling high at Rs 83-177 per kg range in most parts of the country.

Pulse prices are under pressure due to fall in the domestic production in the wake of back-to-back drought.

"We are monitoring it (pulse prices). State governments have been told to act strictly against hoarders," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters said after the Cabinet meeting.

The previous government had "not done much work" in pulse area and the NDA government has now made schemes to encourage cultivation of pulses, he said.

As per data maintained with the consumer affairs ministry, urad is available today 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.

The government has been taking several measures to boost domestic supply of pulses and check price rise. It has created a stock of 50,000 tonnes of pulses and state governments have been asked to place their demand for timely release of stock for retail distribution.

Pulse supply is being improved via imports by both government and private agencies. Private trade purchased 5.5 million tonnes of pulses in 2015-16, up by one million tonne from the previous year. The government contracted to import 25,000 tonnes during the said period.

Despite several steps, pulse prices are expected to remain firm this year as well because production is unlikely to increase significantly because of drought for the second straight year.

As per the agriculture ministry's second estimate, pulse production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous year's production of 17.15 million tonnes.

India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Apr 20, 2016 12:00 IST