Promising action against hoarders and checking the rise in prices of pulses, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the government plans to import 65 lakh tonnes of pulses this year to meet the demand.
The Minister told the Lok Sabha that the government would not allow the prices of pulses to go up under any circumstances and stringent action would be taken if that happens.
Noting that the country did not produce enough pulses in 2015, there was a demand for around 215 lakh tonnes of pulses. The country produced around 170 lakh tonnes while 45 lakh tonnes were imported, he added.
"This year we will require 65 lakh tonnes of pulses to be imported," the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said during Question Hour.
According to Paswan, except pulses, prices of no other item like rice and sugar, have gone up. Though prices of items like tomato and onion have risen, that is temporary.
"This year, under no circumstances we will allow the prices of pulses to go up. If it happens, we will take stringent action," he said, adding action would be taken to ensure that no hoarding takes place.
"We have been taking action against hoarders. We have asked all states to take necessary action so that no hoarding takes place anywhere," he said.
There have been incidents when importers buy pulses cheap abroad but store in the ports of that country and bring to India only when the prices are high, he said.
He said price trends and availability of select essential food items are monitored on a regular basis at the highest level, including by a Committee of Secretaries.
On a daily basis, the Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) in the Department of Consumer Affairs monitors prices of 22 essential commodities which also provides necessary inputs for making appropriate policy interventions.
Wholesale as well as retail prices of the 22 items are compiled by PMC based on information furnished by 89 reporting centres across the country.
"The government has banned exports of all pulses except kabuli channa, and up to 10,000 MTs in organic pulses and lentils; edible oils in bulk, except coconut oil and other edible oils in branded consumer packs of up to 5 kilograms, with minimum export price of $900 per MT," Paswan said.
Besides, the export of onion is regulated through effective imposition of Minimum Export Price (MSP) from time to time depending upon exigencies while import of onion and pulses are allowed at zero import duty, he added.