The state government’s move to raid traders and seize 67,000 tonnes of hoarded pulses will not come as any relief to you, because the government is planning to auction the seized stock back to the traders. For consumers, it means that this huge quantity of pulses will now be brought into the market through traders who had inflated prices a few days ago by creating artificial scarcity.
Since June this year, the prices of pigeon pea (tur dal) and udid dal have been on a constant rise. Till a few days ago, the pigeon pea, the most commonly used ingredient in kitchens in the state, touched Rs200 in the wholesale market; after recent raids, the price decreased to Rs170.
In the retail market, it is still available at prices of Rs220-250.
To bring these inflated prices under control, consumer activists and the opposition parties have demanded that the seized pulses should be brought into the market through the state-owned public distribution system (PDS) and made available to all ration card holders under essential commodity act at a fixed price of Rs80.
“It seems like the government has an understanding with traders that after seizing the pulses, it will give them back to traders. Otherwise, why is the government in a hurry to auction the seized stock back to the traders? This will allow the cycle of inflation and hoarding to continue,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
The MGP has addressed a letter of protest to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and minister of food, civil supplies and consumer protection Girish Bapat. The letter explains the disadvantages of auctioning the seized pulses to traders and advantages of distributing the pulses through PDS.
Criticising the state government “for being pro-trader”, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “The largest quantity of pulses was seized in Maharashtra. This shows that how well-protected the state traders are under the current government. Ideally, the seized stock should have been distributed at rationing shops, which will benefit the common man. But it seems that the current state government is more concerned about traders than farmers or the general public.”