Importers offer to supply dal for Rs. 135

Even as the government intensified its crackdown on hoarders to rein in the prices of pulses in the retail market, importers on Friday urged the government to exempt them from stockholding limits. With their request came the offer that they would supply 100 tonnes of imported dal at Rs.135 per kg every day to hold the price line. Imposing stock limits impacts smooth availability, they argued in their meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday.

The bulk of pulses imports is done by private trade. It is expected that private trade will import 4.18 million tonnes of pulses. As against this, the government has so far imported 5,000 tonnes and contracted for 2,000 tonnes more.

Importers have already contracted for 25 lakh tonnes of pulses for delivery till January and about 2.5 lakh tonnes is lying at ports, the Mumbai-based Indian Pulses and Grains Association chairman Praveen Dongre told journalists. He said the association had offered supply of 100 tonnes of imported tur dal at Rs.135 per kg daily to the government agencies. The supply of imported dal will continue till November-end, he said.

50,000 tonnes unearthed

According to official sources, de-hoarding operations across 10 States have unearthed 50,475.25 tonnes of pulses mostly tur and urad in the last few days. The highest quantity of illegally stored dals were unearthed from Maharashtra (30,373 tonnes) followed by Karnataka (5,967 tonnes), Chhattisgarh (4,525 tonnes) and Tamil Nadu (4,329 tonnes). Other States where illegally stored dal was found were Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

Following the amendment to the Central Order on the Essential Commodities Act to impose limits on stocks that an importer, dealer, miller or large store keeper can hold, States have begun to conduct raids on hoarders and profiteers. This has had a salutary effect on the prices of pulses in the wholesale market but the impact in the retail market is yet to be felt. In some of the retail markets and food stores, tur is selling at Rs. 200 per kg while urad is at Rs.198 per kg.

There were a series of meetings by the government chaired by Mr. Jaitley as well as Union Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha on Friday to take stock of the situation. Dal prices are being monitored closely, official sources said.

The prices of pulses have risen across the country due to a two-million-tonne shortfall in the domestic production owing to drought in some parts of the country. Added to this is the global shortage in pulses output which has left the gap between demand and supply uncovered for India.

Building a buffer

The government has now decided to build a 40,000-tonne buffer stock of pulses at a cost of Rs 400 crore, from the kharif harvest that will start in November. In addition, it has asked Kendriya Bhandars and Safal outlets to sell imported tur and urad at Rs.120 per kg.

In January, the average price of tur was Rs.77 per kg, while urad dal was selling at Rs. 78 per kg. Today, the wholesale price of tur is Rs. 178 per kg while urad is Rs. 154 per kg. In several retail markets, tur is priced at Rs. 200 per kg while urad is sold at Rs. 198 per kg.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 5:07:08 PM |

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