Retail tur dal prices on Friday shot up to Rs 150 per kg amid the government’s efforts to boost supply and check prices. Till last week, tur was available at Rs 141 to Rs 145 per kg in the retail market, official statistics reveal.
The spurt has made the Maharashtra government take measures to improve domestic supply and issue fresh directions for curbing hoarding. The Devendra Fadnavis government had come under fire when tur dal prices had spiralled last October.
Deepak Kapoor, Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Government of Maharashtra, said, “Instructions had been issued to district collectorates and the District Supply Officers (DSOs) to be vigilent and check hoarding of pulses.”
With current stocking limits being in force till September 30, field level officials have been directed to act against illegal hoarding. The severe drought crisis in Maharashtra has hit production of pulses. The government is concerned that the supply shortage might fuel the crisis further.
Meanwhile, fearing a backlash, the office of the Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Girish Bapat appears to have already embarked on a damage control mode.
On Friday, his office spread the word that the department had formulated a proposal for supplying tur to weaker sections at subsidised rates under the public distribution system. But sources said that this was a five-month’s proposal that had been suggested as an “emergency” measure when the prices had shot up to Rs 200 per kg last October. But the government hadn’t pressed the option the last time after several challenges it could pose came to the fore.
For one, tur has not been a part of PDS supplies for a decade. When the proposal was suggested last year, fair price shops had raised the demand for “additional commission” for storage and supply of tur, which would have burdened the state exchequer.
The government at that time had also considered that political and public pressure might make it would be difficult to roll back tur supplies under PDS even after the crisis had ebbed. Milling of tur and it’s transportation from mills was considered as another difficult challenge at that time, sources revealed.