Centre wants states to tame price of pulses

Current shortage of pulses due to crop failure in M'rashtra, K'taka

Centre wants states to tame price of pulses

Caught unawares, the Modi government now wants the states to take the lead in taming the galloping prices of pulses which are retailing at Rs 190 per kg.

The Centre has stepped up efforts to cool the rising prices through imports and invoking the price stabilisation fund. However, these initiatives are expected to take some time to yield results.

Government officials said only Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh had conveyed to the Centre their requirement for imported pulses. With other states not showing interest, the Centre had gone ahead to place tenders for import of 5,000 tonnes of arhar or toor dal and an equal quantity of urad.

Much to the dismay of the Centre, the states were still hesitant to make available pulses through the public distribution system apprehending that it may set a precedent.

“Most of the pulses trade, including imports takes place through private traders,” a government official said.

Officials said the current shortage of pulses was due to crop failure in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The lower yield of pulses in Myanmar, one of the countries from where India imports the commodity, also put a squeeze on the supply.
Of the 5000 tonnes of arhar that had reached JNPT port near Mumbai, 1800 tonnes has been allocated to Andhra Pradesh, while the rest is awaiting customers.

The Centre on Wednesday night offered incentives to the state government by agreeing to pay the milling charges, the port handling charges and transportation charges from the price stabilisation fund.

The government has ordered another 4000 tonnes of arhar of which 2000 tonnes is in transit.

However, these orders are miniscule given the two million tonne shortfall in the domestic production. In 2014-15, India produced 17.20 million tonnes of pulses on account of deficient monsoon and untimely rains. This is nearly five million tonnes less than the consumption of 22.48 million tonnes in 2013-14.

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the crisis situation next year, the Centre has also decided to create a buffer stock of pulses between 40,000 tonnes and 70,000 tonnes mainly through imports.

Congress accused the government of failing to assess the impending crisis. “The government only believes in talking and not action. Policy decision should have been taken earlier to avert the present crisis,” Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said.

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