Raw deal for Odisha in supply of pulses

Bijoy Pradhan

Even as retail markets are witnessing a surge in prices of five major pulses and the Central government has been releasing stock from its buffer under the price stabilisation fund (PSF) to moderate the price, the excess stock is neither available to traders under open market sale nor the state government for supply under welfare schemes.

The National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) are the two Central agencies authorised to sell five major pulses- chana, arhar (harada), black gram (biri), moong and masur under the price stabilisation fund.

“NAFED is least concerned for Odisha despite demands from private traders of the state to make available the buffer stock under open market sale to control prices of pulses especially arhar which is selling at Rs 130- 145 a kg. The silence of the state government is baffling,” said general secretary of Odisha Byabasayee Mahasangha Sudhakar Panda.

He said similar is the attitude of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which has stopped selling wheat in the open market at a time when the state is facing acute scarcity of the foodgrains. As a result, prices of atta (flour), suji and maida have gone up by Rs 200 a quintal.

As the average wholesale price of arhar is over Rs 13,000 per quintal, the Centre has been releasing whole grain tur in a targeted and calibrated manner to augment the availability of the stock to states for milling into dal and supply to consumers. Odisha, however, has not received a grain of any of the five dals from the Central stock.

Panda said the Central government has resorted to market intervention by launching the sale of chana dal in retail packs of one kg at Rs 60 and 30 kg pack at Rs 55 per kg through retail outlets of NAFED, NCCF, Kendriya Bhandar and Safal since July 17. Had it been available in the state through fair price shops at the subsidised rate, the consumers here could have saved at least Rs 5-7 a kg.

Under the arrangement, he said, chana dal is also made available to other states for supplies under their welfare schemes, police, jails, and also for distribution through retail outlets of state government controlled cooperatives and corporations.  

“The state government has made a provision of Rs 100 crore under price stabilisation fund but there is no plan at the moment to go for market intervention,” said a senior officer of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department.

Central negligence

 FCI has stopped selling wheat in open market when the state is facing acute scarcity of the foodgrain
 Odisha has not received a grain of any of the five pulses from the Central stock
 The benefit of Centre’s market intervention has not reached the state

This article has been republished from The New Indian Express

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