Government moves to rein in spiralling price of pulses

New Delhi: With the prices of pulses spiralling well over Rs.100 and tur, or pigeon pea, touching Rs.190 per kg, the government on Thursday initiated various measures including imports and invoking the price stabilisation fund to create a buffer stock for reining in runaway inflation in the commodity.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, who chaired an inter-ministerial group (IMG) meeting on Wednesday, said the government has decided to create a buffer stock of lentils mainly through imports.

"Keeping in mind that some amount of stock is available with JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Mumbai), the group decided that we build up a buffer stock preferably by imports to take care of the problem in future," he told reporters after the meeting.

"More quantity for the next few days will also be imported into the country so that the supply side problem can be taken care of, that will have an impact on prices," he added.

Jaitley also said the government has decided to take recourse to the Rs.500 crore Price Stabilisation Fund to pay for transportation and processing of imported pulses, that would help increase supplies and make pulses available at lower prices.

In an attempt to improve availability and check rising prices of pulses in the national capital, the Kendriya Bhandar started selling imported 'tur dal' at its 100 locations from Thursday.

The sale of the commodity at Mother Dairy's 300 Safal outlets would begin from this weekend.

The 20 Kendriya Bhandars here contacted by IANS on Thursday reported they had received the tur dal supplies for distribution late in the afternoon, which meant there were only a few customers for the commodity. Only 5 of these stores said they had received around five to seven customers for it.

Kendriya Bhandars sold the tur on Thursday at Rs.149 per kg, while they had earlier sold the same at Rs.170, the storekeepers said.

State-owned MMTC has floated a fresh tender for import of 2,000 tonnes of 'tur dal', to be delivered by next month, to further improve the supply after contracting to import 5,000 tonnes of 'tur dal', out of which 3,250 tonnes have landed at Chennai and Mumbai ports and the rest will arrive soon.

The public sector firm has separately contracted to import 5,000 tonnes of 'urad'.

These decisions were made at a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee, headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary C. Vishwanath, held here on Monday.

India's retail inflation, based on the consumer price index (CPI) for September, increased to 4.41 percent, from 3.74 percent recorded for the previous month, on the back of higher food prices, data showed on Monday.

Contributing the most to food inflation in September were pulses, which were costlier by nearly 30 percent.

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