The government has decided to put a limit on stocks of onions and potatoes traders can store to curb hoarding and also raised the price at which onions can be exported, as it battles a spike in prices of the two common ingredients of most Indian meals.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has also decided to release additional 50 lakh tonnes of rice through ration shops to help cool the rising prices.
The two commodities were brought back under the Essential Commodities Act after a decade, which will allow the government to place the stock-holding limits for one year.
“The government received complaints that despite good stocks, hoarding is taking place. Moreover, six states also sought such as step. Now the states must take firm, effective and result-oriented steps to crack down on hoarding,” law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Wholesale prices hit a five-month high of 6.01% in May. Food prices have more than doubled, as a sluggish monsoon keeps government and farmers edgy.
The government raised the minimum price at which onions can be sold abroad to $500 a tonne (about Rs 30,000).
Asked on how the govt planned to tackle concerns of a drought, Prasad said: “We expect good rains in the next few days.”