With tur (arhar) sowing down by almost 11.6 per cent this kharif season, the Centre on Friday asked states and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure that stockists and traders disclose quantities of tur dal held by them. The output was down owing to the late onset of monsoon in major-growing states followed by excess rainfall in August, hurting crop prospects.
Sources said traders may be asked to disclose stocks held by them in a centralised portal to ensure smooth monitoring of inventory. They also said the move — which is meant to control a surge in prices during the festival season — is being interpreted by the market as precursor to stricter measures if prices don’t fall in the next few days.
According to the department of consumer affairs, the retail price of tur dal has risen by almost Rs 13 per kg in the last one month to around Rs 113 per kg (jump of 13 per cent). In some cities, the rise in prices has been in the range of Rs 12-20 per kg.
In the initial stages, tur sowing dropped due to delayed onset of monsoon over the major-growing states. Thereafter, excess rainfall in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh (since the end of July) may have impacted the standing crop.
“The Centre wants private stocks held with traders to come into the market before the festival demand sets in. This will help prevent any unusual spike in prices,” a market participant said.
According to an official statement, the government is monitoring the prices of pulses closely. Currently, it has around 3.8 million tonnes in its buffer and this is being released to boost domestic supply.
On Friday, the department of consumer affairs issued a “directive to all states and UTs to enforce stock disclosure by stockholders of tur under Section 3(2)(h) and 3(2)(i) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.” States and UTs have also been told to monitor and verify the stocks.
Besides, they have been asked to direct stockholder entities to upload the data of stocks held by them on the department’s online monitoring portal on a weekly basis, the statement said.
“There are reports that some sections of stockists and traders are resorting to restricted sales in an attempt to create artificial scarcity to push the price upward,” it added.
“The Centre is closely watching the overall availability and prices of pulses in the domestic as well as overseas markets. It may take necessary pre-emptive measures in an event of unwarranted price rise in the upcoming festival months,” the statement said.