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Crackdown on hoarders, more action to check pulses’ prices

New Delhi, June 19: About 1.30 lakh tonnes of pulses have been seized from hoarders in Harya, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and other parts of northern India in the last few months, official sources said here on Sunday. The crackdown is part of government efforts to rein in the spiralling prices of pulses, of which some varieties are selling in retail in large cities in the range of Rs 180-200 per kg.

“Hoarding is a hard fact and this is reported from parts of north India including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Harya. So far, adequate actions have been taken in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil du,” an official source said. Fince Minister Arun Jaitley told a TV channel in an interview telecast on Saturday that action against hoarders last year helped the government bring the prices of pulses down by about Rs 50 per kg in the retail market. This year the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Income Tax department and local police have been conducting raids on people who are suspected to have been hoarding pulses to take advantage of the high prices, according to sources. The high prices of pulses, however, arise from the long-term issue of supply falling short of demand by “about five million tonnes”, Jaitley said in his TV interview, terming the shortfall a “serious challenge” for the government to tackle.

The demand-supply gap could be even wider than five million tonnes.

A source in the food ministry said: “As against the average supply of 17 million tonnes of pulses, the tiol demand is about 24 million tonnes. India is largest producer of pulses but also largest consumer and a very large importer.”

The ministry confirms that about 5.5 million tonnes of pulses were imported in the last fincial year. This year too the government is looking to import pulses from Myanmar, Mozambique and other countries, the source said. He said pulses are generally imported by private traders as well as public-sector agencies. “But to avoid black-marketing, government-to-government contracts have been planned with countries like Myanmar to import the stuff for enhanced buffer stocks,” the source said. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita