Pawar policies led to Rs12,000 crore loss on pulses: CAG

Official food trading companies paid for imports of yellow peas and other pulses but private players cornered the market, finds the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.

Sharad PawarIn a report tabled in Parliament today, the CAG says the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution caused a loss of over Rs1,200 crore to state-owned commodity trading agencies by not monitoring imports of pulses.

The agencies, including the State Trading Corp and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Fedration of India Ltd (NAFED) suffered these losses on import and sale of pulses between 2006 and 2011 - without achieving the government's purported aim of stabilising prices in the market, the CAG says.

"As against the targeted quantity of import and sale of 53.10 lakh tonnes of pulses during 2006-11, the agencies imported 30.04 lakh tonnes and sold 26.95 lakh tonnes of pulses during this period, incurring losses totalling Rs1,201.32 crore on these transactions," the CAG said in its report.

The prices of pulses, a basic food for most Indians, made headline news before general food prices started coming down over the last month or so. However, pulses continue to rule high in the markets.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party and a senior member of the union government, held the food distribution and consumer affairs portfolio during the period covered by the CAG report.