As part of its crackdown against hoarding, the state administration has seized 23,340 metric tonnes of pulses, worth more than Rs180 crore, from across the state in the past two days. More than 95% of the stock was found at five illegal warehouses in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, including those at Dahisar, Taloja, Turbhe and Mumbra.
The district administration initiated the raids, after the government issued a notification imposing restrictions on the holding stock of pulses, edible oil and oilseeds two days ago. “I met the director general of police on Wednesday, directing them to act against hoarders under the Maharashtra Prevention of the Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA) and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). All commissioners and district collectors have been ordered to start action. We will ensure the cases are fullproof, so they stand in court,” said Girish Bapat, food and civil supplies minister.
Around 7,000 metric tonnes of pulses worth Rs49.2 crore, were recovered from the warehouse at Taloja. Mahesh Tarde, inspector (crime), Taloja, said, “The raid went on for more than 18 hours. We raided three godowns in the warehouse and seized 1,40,363 bags of pulses. These included tur, chana, masur, urad and other pulses.”
Bapat said the government was scrutinising the documents obtained from the warehouses. “We have conducted similar raids at many such godowns in Konkan. We have registered cases against four men for their involvement in hoarding,” he said.
The state government has claimed the rates have dropped after the raids and are expected to come down more in the next few days. Bapat said the retail prices of the pulses have fallen to Rs160 a kg, from Rs200 two days ago. He said the district collectors will hold an auction of the seized stock to bring the stock in the open market.
Bapat clarified the decision of lifting the restrictions on holding of pulses, oilseeds and edible oil was taken by the government in April 2015, to accommodate the imported stock. Consumer activists have alleged the government’s decision to lift the restrictions has led to black marketing and hoarding, resulting in spiralling of prices.
(With inputs from G. Mohiuddin Jeddy)