Buying dal will continue to pinch your pocket, as the prices of the most commonly used varieties have not dropped below the Rs200-mark in the retail market for a couple of months.
A kilogram of tur dal costs Rs230 in the retail market, while urad dal is Rs200, despite the state government’s promise to crack down on traders to bring down the rates.
With the price of the pulses reducing in the wholesale market — both tur and urad dal cost around Rs155 — consumer activists are blaming profiteering by traders and the lack of government intervention for retail prices staying high.
Two months ago, the steep hike in the prices of the Indian kitchen staple forced the Maharashtra government to seize 67,000 metric tonnes from traders, including 13,000 tonnes of tur dal. To bring the prices under control, the government said the seized tur dal will be auctioned off and traders will be asked to sign an undertaking that they will sell it for Rs100 a kg.
“Forget about relief, the situation has actually become worse this month, compared to October. We have been insisting that releasing the pulses to traders will not give consumers any relief. The state should have distributed the seized stock using the public distribution system, under the Essential Commodities Act,” said Shirish Deshpande, the chairman of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP), a consumer rights organisation.
The state’s food and civil supplies minister, Girish Bapat, however maintains the prices of pulses have started reducing in the retail market from the earlier Rs200 to Rs160 or Rs150.
“Following some of our recent decisions, the new stock of pulses has started flowing into the market. This will stabilise the rates in some time. We are also pushing to sell the seized tur dal for Rs99 a kg. In the retail market too, the rates of the average split pigeon pea has reduced to Rs160 or Rs150 depending on location and quality,” Bapat said.
Some of the seized pulses are being sold for Rs99 at stores, but consumers said the stock sold at this price is of poor and adulterated.
“The tur dal that is available at Rs99 is adulterated and can endanger the health of consumers. We have found lakhi dal and white peas in it,” said Chhaya Warange, the president of the purchase committee of MGP.