The state government’s decision to auction seized stock of 13,000 tonnes of pulses will not give any immediate relief to consumers as the prices are unlikely to decline. According to the experts, the auction will not take place or will be rigged or cartelised by the traders to maintain the high rates in the market.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday announced the auction of a seized stock of pulses and claimed it will help the government bring down the retail rates.
Consumer activists and traders have declined to buy the government theory for various reasons and claimed the rates of pigeon pea (Tur dal) and split black gram (Udid dal) are likely to remain high in the coming days.
Following the spurt in the price of pulses since June this year, the state government imposed a stock limit, raided traders and seized excessive stock.
However, none of this has helped curb the prices. The activists blamed this on the government’s failure to take timely measures and even criticised the latest decision of auctioning the seized stock.
“There is a high possibility that such an auction will be rigged and cartelised by big traders, as a result the whole exercise of raiding and seizing the stock will not serve its purpose. Moreover, such a move is not in the interest of consumers,” Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) stated in its press statement.
To counter this, MGP has been demanding the distribution of seized pulses through the public distribution system (PDS) under the Essential Commodities Act.
Traders, too, have contested the government decision and decided to move court against it.
“Seizing of pulses was wrong and a hastily taken decision. Some of the traders are likely to appeal in court and demand a stay on the auction because most stock seized by the state were legally imported by the traders before a stock limit was imposed,” said Popatlal Bhandari, secretary of Grain, Rice and Oilseed Merchant’s Association.
The MGP said the move of auctioning the pulses was made by the state after being pressurised by traders.
Meanwhile, the vegetable retailers and vendors continue to profit by selling the vegetables at prices much higher than their wholesale prices.