New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The buffer stock mechanism pursued by the government to tackle skyrocketing prices of pulses does not seem to be working, with the states not collecting the stocks.
Interestingly, most of the defaulting states are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Of the 11 shortlisted states, only Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana picked up the stocks,” a Food Ministry official told IANS on Thursday.
However, the central government has decided to import 30,000 tonnes more of pulses to raise the buffer stock, official sources said.
The Price Stabilisation Fund chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande on Wednesday decided that fresh imports will include 20,000 tonnes of tur/arhar dal and 10,000 tonnes of urad.
A ministerial committee headed by Finance Minister Arun Jatley, and comprising Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh last month decided to increase the buffer stocks to 20 lakh tonnes from earlier target of eight lakh tonnes.
States which were expected to collect pulses from the buffer stocks but did not procure these include key BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Other states are Bihar, and Congress-ruled Karnataka.
The central government-ruled Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which was allocated 559.344 tonnes, also did not procure any stocks.
Sources said the Tamil Nadu government has procured a near negligible 500 tonnes of pulses as against the 4,090.847 tonnes allotted to it.
Andhra Pradesh, which was allotted 4,426.519 tonnes, has procured 2,221.741 tonnes, while Telangana has collected 1,999.365 tonnes as against 3,958.665 tonnes allocation from the central buffer stocks.
Of the allocated quantity of 800 tonnes of pulses, about 340 tonnes have been procured by Delhi and the stocks are being made available at outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, Safal and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation.
The government agencies have also procured about 1.19 million tonnes of pulses from the domestic market, official sources said.
Realising that nothing much can be achieved in terms of bringing down the high prices of pulses without states’ help, the Department of Consumer Affairs has requested the state governments to lift tur/arhar and urad pulses from the buffer stocks for distribution at not more than Rs 120 per kg.
Tur is being provided to the states at the rate of Rs 67 per kg and urad at Rs 82 per kg, a source said.
Last month the Centre had urged the states to remove all local taxes and consider capping the prices of pulses, edible oils and other essential commodities to help make these available at “reasonable prices”.
The government also set up a group of officers from various enforcement agencies for regular monitoring and exchange of information on hoarding of pulses and other food items.
On July 11 to address the vexed issue of escalating prices of pulses, the government set up a high-level committee headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian to consider “reasonable increase” in minimum support price (MSP) for pulses and bonus for the farmers.
The government seemed to be clueless on how to tame the prices of pulses despite a number of strategies undertaken by it.
The high prices of pulses had figured in the Lok Sabha last week.
Repeatedly targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi referred to the BJP’s popular election-time slogan of ‘Har Har Modi’ and said now the people are saying, “Arhar Modi” — a reference to growing prices of pulses including the arhar dal.