Pulses in lieu of cash for some central schemes

Saddled with a record reserve of pulses, the government on Friday decided to offload a part of the stock as a substitute to its financial contribution to central schemes such as midday meal, hospitals as well as ministries and departments providing food and catering services.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, empowered various ministries to amend their schemes and guidelines for utilising pulses from the buffer stock as 'in kind' contribution.

This is in addition to the ongoing sale of pulses in the open market as also allocations to the state governments against their demands.

The Centre had built up a buffer stock of 18 lakh tonnes of pulses which was to be used as market intervention in case of a sharp surge in the prices of the protein staple for vegetarians. However, a bumper crop of pulses last year and encouraging production estimates this year have kept the prices subdued, forcing the government to clear the stocks at rates less than market prices.

The cost of pulses supplied to states would, in no case, be higher than the market price, protecting their interests as well, a government statement said.

It said the ministries concerned will make necessary changes in their schemes and assess the requirement of pulses in three months.

The supply of pulses from the central buffer stock would commence based on such requirements indicated by these ministries/departments, the statement said.

The objective is to enable the administrative ministries/departments concerned to ensure that pulses from the buffer stock are utilised as 'in kind' component of the centre's contribution in such schemes, in lieu of its financial contribution of an equivalent amount.

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