The government will import 90,000 tonnes of chana dal through state-owned trading firm MMTC and examine import duty on sugar to boost supply and check prices of the two essential commodities that continue to rule high.
Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha today reviewed the availability as well as the prices of essential commodities and asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to consider all options to check the prices of chana dal and sugar.
State governments have been told to impose stock limits and take action against hoarders to ensure availability of all essential commodities during the ongoing festival season.
The meeting was attended by the secretaries of consumer affairs, agriculture, food, commerce, expenditure and others.
"It was observed that the recent measures taken by the central government have helped containing prices of most of the pulses, which are showing declining trends, and other essential commodities except chana and sugar," an official statement said.
The Cabinet Secretary directed Department of Consumer Affairs to "consider all options to check the prices of both the commodities", it added.
According to government data, chana dal is currently being sold at an average price of Rs 110 per kg. The maximum price is Rs 145 per kg. Sugar is available at an average price of Rs 40 per kg, although the maximum rate is Rs 47 per kg.
In the national capital, chana dal is available at Rs 136 per kg and sugar at Rs 43 per kg.
According to sources, the department of consumer affairs was told to examine the possibility of reducing import duty on sugar, which is currently at 40 per cent.
The government is also planning to import 90,000 tonnes of chana dal through MMTC, they said, adding that trading firm would soon float the tender for same.
Sinha said the distribution of the chana dal and other pulses should be taken up through postal network.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande was asked to "pursue states to impose stock limits and to carry dehoarding drives to ensure availability of all the essential commodities during ongoing festival season".
The meeting also reviewed distribution of pulses to state governments from the buffer stock.
In the absence of government outlets in states, the Centre recently decided to utilise huge network of post offices across the country to sell subsidised pulses, mainly tur, urad and chana, to ensure their availability in the ongoing festival season.
The Centre has decided to create a buffer stock of 20 lakh tonnes of pulses from the domestic market as also imports.
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