The central government has seized more than 35,000 tonnes of pulses following intensified de-hoarding operations across various states so far, finance minister Arun Jaitly said today, adding that the government plans to push these stocks and imported pulses into the open market to push down prices.
Jaitley, who called a meeting of the inter-ministerial group for the second time in a week today, said the states are not doing enough to crack down on hoarders and black marketeers.
With dal prices touching a record Rs210 per kg, the government on Wednesday went into a fire-fighting mode, raiding hoarders to recover about 35,000 tonnes of pulses.
As much as 5,000 tonnes of imported pulses have already arrived and are being distributed to the states and another 3,000 tonnes are on the way, Jaitley said.
In the national capital, imported tur dal (pigeon peas) is being sold at a subsidised rate of Rs120 per kg at nearly 500 outlets of Kendriya Bhandar and Safal.
''It is a matter of regret that most states are doing nothing to discharge their responsibility in taking action against hoarders. It is only in the last 3-4 days, after the central government amounted pressure, that staggering quantities of 35,000 tonnes of dal have been recovered. Raids are still continuing,'' he told reporters after the meeting.
He said the government has made amendments to the the Central Order under Essential Commodities Act to enable states to impose stock limits on pulses sourced from imports, held by exporters, large food processing units as well as large departmental retailers.
He also exhorted the states to carry out surprise inspections and raids to prevent hoarding of pulses.
In a bid to increase the availability of pulses, in Haryana MD, HADED has been directed to procure pulses from the market and sell it through its outlets to bring down the prices.
In Uttarakhand, retail counters of pulse have been opened in Dehradun, Haridwar, Udhamsingh Nagar by Mandi samitis through which arhar dal is provided at Rs145 per kg, the minister said, adding that instructions have been given to all districts to provide pulses at the decided price through fair price shops.
In Delhi, tur dal is being sold at Rs120 per kg through outlets of Safal and Kendriya Bhandar.
Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, the state government is selling urad dal at Rs30 per kg through state government outlets while in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana red gram is being distributed at Rs50 per kg, Jaitly pointed out.
Jaitley warned of penal action against the hoarders even as he expected prices to cool at retail level in the next two-three days after quantity seized in raids as well as those imported are released in the market.
''The raids are still continuing and over the next 2-3 days, more raids which are been conducted by the states, more hoarded quantity is likely to be recovered,'' Jaitley said.
''There is time lag between wholesale price easing and retail price easing... therefore, it is slowly then translated into price easing into the market itself,'' he said.