Over 50,000 tonnes of pulses, mostly imported tur dal, have been seized from hoarders in raids across 10 states even as retail prices today showed no signs of abating and continue to rule at Rs 210 per kg.
In order to assess the availability of imported pulses, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today held two rounds of meetings, first with importers and later with officials of ministries concerned.
The Cabinet Secretary also reviewed the prices situation and dehoarding measures being taken by the state governments.
Importers during the meeting with the Finance Minister offered to supply 1 lakh kg of imported tur dal at Rs 135 per kg on daily basis to government agencies, while demanding exemptions from stock holding limit on them.
“Raids to check hoarding are continuing in various states. Today, four states reported that they have seized 15,335.95 tonnes of pulses, mostly imported tur dal,” a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official told PTI.
About 7,033 tonnes of lentils were seized from Maharashtra, 5,487 tonnes from Karnataka, 2,051 tonnes from Rajasthan and 764 tonnes from Haryana, a statement said.
This takes the total seizure of pulses so far to 50,656 tonnes, recovered in 3,149 raids across 10 states.
“As a result of action taken by states, there has been a decrease of about Rs 200/quintal in mandi rates in Mumbai and also in futures trading of chana,” the statement said.
Retail prices of pulses have also declined in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it added.
As per the Consumer Affairs Ministry’s data, retail price of tur dal is as high as Rs 210/kg, urad Rs 190/kg, moong dal Rs 130/kg, masoor dal Rs 110/kg and gram Rs 85/kg.
After the meeting with Jaitley, Mumbai-based Indian Pulses and Grains Association Chairman Praveen Dongre said: “Pulses prices will come down only if there is smooth availability of imported dals. Therefore, pulses imports and importers should be exempted from the stock holding limit.”
Stating that importers have already contracted 25 lakh tonnes of pulses for delivery till January and about 2.5 lakh tonnes are lying at ports, Dongre said, “Any kind of restriction will dry the pipeline”.
To give relief to common man from skyrocketing prices of pulses, Dongre said the Association has offered to supply 1,00,000 kg (100 tonnes) of imported tur dal at Rs 135 per kg on a daily basis to government agencies.
Asked about the government’s response to their demand, Dongre said that the Finance Minister has heard us and has taken note of the importers’ issues.
Dal prices have risen across the country due to a shortfall in domestic output by 2 million tonnes in 2014-15 hit by poor rains. There is also global shortage of lentils.
When the pulses crisis escalated, the Centre brought importers, exporters, departmental stores and licenced food processors under the stock holding limit to check hoarding even as it looked at imports to boost supplies.
The Association also mentioned that the average stock holding limit for importers is about 300-350 tonnes in states. Imports would be difficult to undertake with such limits as a vessel carries a minimum of 50,000 tonnes of pulses.
Dongre said that the supply of 1,00,000 kg of pulses would continue during the festival season till November-end.
Meanwhile, an official statement gave state-wise break up of pulses seized from hoarders and blackmarketeers.
Out of 50,656.79 tonne seized so far, the largest quantity of pulses has been confiscated in Maharashtra at 30,373 tonnes, followed by Karnataka (5,967 tonnes), Chhattisgarh (4,525 tonnes), Telangana (2,546 tonnes), Madhya Pradesh (2,295 tonnes), Rajasthan (2151 tonnes), Haryana (1,932 tonnes), Andhra Pradesh (859.87 tonnes), Tamil Nadu (4.32 tonnes) and Himachal Pradesh (2.44 tonnes).
Raids are being carried out after state governments were exhorted to intensify action against hoarding, the official statement said.
Besides stockholding limits, the Centre has taken several measures such as creating a buffer stock of 40,000 tonnes and sale of imported pulses at cheaper rates to give relief to the common man. The state governments have also seized about 36,000 tonnes of pulses during raids on hoarders.