BHUBANESWAR: Even after repeated reminders, the State Government is yet to place indent with the Centre which is importing pulses to meet the shortfall. As prices of pulses have started showing upward trend again, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has written to all States, including Odisha, to project their demands for release from buffer stock.
The Centre has decided to release 10,000 tonnes of pulses mainly arhar and black gram from buffer stock to ensure their availability at reasonable price. While asking the State Government to keep a close watch on the prices of dal and take stringent action against hoarders, it has offered the State to utilise the available stock for managing the prices of pulses.
“It has been nearly a week the State has not responded to the Centre’s offer. Further delay will prove costly to the State as the Centre will distribute the buffer stock among those States which have already placed their orders,” said secretary of Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA) Sudhakar Panda. The Centre has indicated that it will provide whole grain arhar and biri (black gram) at Rs 66 and Rs 82 per kg respectively. The State Government has to transport and process the dal at its own cost. “It seems the State Government does not have the intent to lift pulses from the central pool as it has not finalised the modalities for procurement,” Panda said.
Sources in the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department said no decision has been taken about purchase of pulses from the central pool.
The State’s annual requirement of dal is about 9.3 lakh tonnes while the production of pulses is about 10 lakh tonnes as per the Government statistics. Despite achieving self-sufficiency in pulse production, the State has been importing nearly two lakh tonnes of pulses every year.
Prices of all varieties of dal in the State have remained high. While arhar is selling at Rs 120-130 a kg (it touched Rs 150 a kg last year), black gram is priced at Rs 130-150 a kg as against Rs 180 a kg last year. Moong dal, which is very popular in the State, is selling at Rs 82-85 a kg.
Alleging a nexus between the ruling BJD and the traders, the State BJP on Saturday said the Odisha Government has allowed the traders to exploit the consumers. Though the State Government was given similar opportunity to lift pulses from the central buffer stock last year, it did not respond for obvious reasons, BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said.