There is no shortage of food stock, particularly vegetables, in the country and the inflation in food articles is artificially created, the government said on Thursday.
It also committed itself to curbing the prices of essential commodities in the next couple of days. “The government has taken serious note of the recent increase in market prices of some food articles.
It would take stern action, jointly with state governments, to check all such unreasonable hike as there is enough stock of foodgrain and other essential commodities in the country,” Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan told mediapersons, after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of the monsoon and its impact on food prices.
In one such stern measure, the prime minister has asked states to set up special courts to try vegetable and food hoarders. The government also slapped a minimum export price of $450 per tonne for potatoes, to boost local supplies and contain inflation.
This is the first time that India has imposed a floor export price on potatoes.Last week, the government had also imposed a floor export price on onions at $300 per tonne.
It even asked authorities to release more rice stock in the open market to check prices.
The prime minister, in Thursday’s meeting, was apprised of the measures that have had a positive impact, with adequate rice stock reaching markets. There was also no shortage of onions in Delhi and elsewhere, the officials told Modi.
India produced 15 per cent more onions last year compared to 2012. At present, the Centre also has 30 million tonnes of rice and 27 million tonnes of wheat. The arrival of fresh crop from Karnataka and Maharashtra from July onwards is expected to ease onion prices further.
“With so much of stock, there cannot be inflation in foodgrain,” Paswan said adding, “It is an artificially created price rise.” Besides, the Centre has already written to states to provide feedback on action taken to check hoarding and black marketing.
A senior official in the food ministry told Deccan Herald that one or two states, including Madhya Pradesh, have apprised the Centre of the action they have taken against speculative hoarders. Cases have been lodged against them, he said.
In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised that it would set up special courts to stop hoarding and black marketing. It had also promised to set up a price stabilisation fund.
The Centre will convene a conference of state food ministers on July 4 to discuss further measures to check inflation.
Modi also discussed the monsoon situation in the country. He asked the Centre and states to mount a concerted effort to implement the advance action plan for the monsoon, with districts, rather than states, being the unit of planning.