Keep strict watch on hoarders, says Modi

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New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told authorities to keep a strict watch on hoarders to ensure there was no repeat of the 2015 shortage of pulses.

Presiding over a cabinet meeting here, Modi also directed that state governments should be told to act strictly against hoarders.

The issue of availability of pulses and increase in prices of essential commodities figured prominently at the meeting, informed sources said.

Modi instructed the food ministry to take adequate steps to ensure there were no problems in procuring pulses and lifting adequate stocks by states as it happened last year, the sources said.

“We are monitoring the pulse prices. State governments have been told to act strictly against hoarders,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters after the meeting.

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Last year, pulse prices had shot up. This led to raids in November against hoarders in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, leading to seizure of 4,660.68 tonnes of pulses.

“Nothing should be left to chance and similar conditions should not be allowed to repeat,” a source said.

Last year, after prices of pulses, including tur dal, shot up, the central government imported a whopping 5,000 tonnes but many states declined to accept the imported commodity citing technicalities.

Moreover, many states lack storage and marketing channels.

The food ministry says that although India is the largest producer of pulses in the world, overwhelming demand leads to short supply.

As per the agriculture ministry’s estimates, pulse production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year, marginally higher than the previous year’s output of 17.15 million tonnes.

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But this will still fall short of demand.

According to the consumer affairs ministry, urad dal is available at Rs.172 per kg, tur at Rs.160, moong at Rs.122, masoor at Rs.98 and gram at Rs.74 a kg in the retail market.



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