The central government found itself helpless as the prices of pulses continued to spiral of control once again.
Delhi and Mumbai reported that pulses were being sold at Rs 200 per kg.
A nervous central government has reportedly asked intelligence agencies to crackdown on cartels. PTI report said that futures trade had been curbed to check speculation and buffer stock was hiked over 5-times to 8 lakh tonnes to boost supply in a multi-pronged approach.
Efforts were also beefed up to sell larger quantities of pulses at highly-subsidised rates through government agencies and outlets, but any favourable results were hardly visible in the retail and wholesale markets.
Urad dal was selling at as high as Rs 196 per kg, while chana was also seen moving closer to Rs 100 per kg level. Tur dal continued to rule high at Rs 166 per kg, while moong and masur were being sold at Rs 125 and Rs 105 per kg, respectively, as per the latest government data.
In some high-end markets in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the prices of pulses were even higher.
Taking forward the decisions taken at a high-profile meeting chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday, the Food Ministry decided to enhance the buffer stock of pulses from 1.5 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes. Markets regulator Sebi joined hands by banning any fresh futures market position in chana, the only commodity among pulses where such trading was allowed.
At the outlets of the government agencies, further stocks were added to sell pulses at subsidised rates, including at Rs Rs 60 per kg for chana (gram) dal and 120 per kg for urad and tur dal.
Concerned over rising prices, Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande held a meeting with the officials of Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Income Tax, the Enforcement Directorate and Intelligence Bureau (IB). He also interacted with state government officials of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi via video conferencing and asked them to be alert to check hoarders.
“I have asked all of them to pull up their socks and ensure that no artificial rise in pulses’ prices take place,” Pande told reporters after the meeting.
Enforcement agencies have also been directed to check cartelisation and hoarding of pulses, he added.
The secretary said that officials concerned have been told to keep a track of the entire supply chain of imported dal from shipment to final delivery point. That apart, the states have been told to sell tur and urad from the buffer stock at a subsidised rate of not more than Rs 120/kg and chana Rs 60/kg.
“We have requested them (states) to cap the prices. We have told that the Centre will provide more pulses if state governments need,” Pande said.
Meanwhile, Sebi decided to stop launch of new contracts in chana futures and any fresh position in existing contracts to check any speculative rally. It asked the investors to wind down their existing positions. Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to two consecutive years of drought.
The buffer stock is being created through domestic procurement as well as through imports in order to address the deficit of 7.6 million tonnes of pulses.