The prices of pulses at the city’s wholesale markets have fallen – albeit marginally – over the past two days, following the government’s action against traders who were found to be hoarding stocks of tur dal and urad dal. It will, however, be a few days before prices fall in retail markets.
At their peak, the prices of tur dal and urad dal were more than double what they were in the corresponding period last year. In October 2014, the wholesale price of tur dal was around Rs80 a kilo; it touched Rs200 this year. Similarly, the wholesale price of urad dal shot up from Rs82 a kilo in 2014 to Rs175 a kilo this year.
Now their prices have started declining at last; tur dal and urad dal now cost Rs175 and Rs165 a kilo, respectively. The prices of other pulses, such as moong dal and masoor dal, have also fallen by between Rs5 and Rs15 a kilo.
However, these price drops are yet to reflect in retails markets, as most traders are still selling stocks bought at higher wholesale prices. “The tur dal available with us was bought for Rs200 a kilo, so obviously we will sell it with a margin of at least 10%,” said Mehul Jain, a retailer from Dadar.
Shirish Deshpande, chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, said, “This situation would not have arisen if these measures (taking on hoarders and imposing stock limits) had been implemented in July and August. No-one from the state government was monitoring the prices of pulses, and the stock limits were not revised in time. Will state take action against officials responsible for this dereliction of duty.”
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Meanwhile, opposition parties continued their attack on the government for failing to keep the prices of essential commodities in check. “Firstly, this government allowed the prices of pulses to peak and traders to make their profits in a short period. Prices have more than doubled since last year, so what’s point in showing a marginal drop of Rs25? They should bring it back to Rs80 a kilo like it was last year,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
On other hand, traders complained that they were not given enough time to clear their old stocks, which they had bought before the stock limits were imposed. “Prices are coming down because of panic among small traders, but this could lead to a shortage of pulses in future. Besides, the government should have given traders some time to clear their old stocks, which were procured when stock limits weren’t in place,” said Mohan Gurnani, president of the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra.