As pulses prices hit as high as Rs 200 per kg in retail markets, the government has tweaked an earlier order to enable states to impose limits on stocks that can be held by importers, large department retailers and even food processors, aimed at hardening a crackdown on hoarding.
“In a bid to increase availability and to prevent the hoarding of pulses, the government has amended the Central Order under Essential Commodities Act, 1955 with immediate effect to enable the 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 department retailers,” an official statement said on Sunday.
Last month, while extending the imposition of stock limits on pulses, edible oils and edible oil seeds by one more year through September 30, 2016, the government had kept these four categories of players out of the purview of the stock-piling curbs. However, with the latest move, all exemptions have been withdrawn. This means states can impose limits on the stocks of pulses these entities can pile up and take suitable action in case of any violation by them.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley chaired a high-level inter-ministerial meeting on October 14 and took decisions, including the creation of a buffer stock through the procurement and imports of pulses, strict action against hoarders and black marketers, bearing transportation, handling and milling charges of imported pulses from the price stabilisation fund and encouraging states to lift stocks of imported pulses, among others, the statement added.
Pulse prices have been surging in recent months, as production dropped almost 10% in 2014-15 to 17.3 million tonne following dry spells in the summer as well as unseasonal rains before the harvesting of winter crops last year.