New Delhi: The government on Monday said it is keeping a close watch on the prices of pulses which are "more or less stable" in the Rs 83-177/kg range for the last one month in retail markets across the country.
As per the data maintained with the Consumer Affairs Ministry, urad is available today at Rs 177/kg, tur - 165/kg, moong - Rs 130/kg, masoor - Rs 100/kg and gram - Rs 83/kg.
Last month, urad cost Rs 172, tur - Rs 162, moong - Rs 122, masoor - Rs 107 and gram - Rs 75 per kg in most retail markets, the data showed.
It may be noted that pulses prices have cooled from the peak of Rs 210 per kg last year, following a slew of measures including crackdown on hoarders
"Recent trend shows, pulses prices are more or less stable. The government is taking initiatives to boost supply and check further rise in prices," Consumer Affairs Secretary C Viswanath told PTI.
The government is keeping a close watch on the prices and availability of pulses and it is being monitored regularly at the highest level, he said.
In a separate statement, the ministry said the government has created a stock of 50,000 tonnes of pulses and state governments have been asked to place their demand for timely release of stock for retail distribution.
Pulses supply is being improved via imports by both government and private agencies. Private trade purchased 5.5 million tonnes of pulses in 2015-16 fiscal, up by one million tonnes from the previous year, it said.
The government contracted to import 25,000 tonnes during the said period.
To curb blackmarketing and speculation, the state governments have been asked to strictly enforce stock holding limits and take stringent action against hoarders.
Despite several steps, pulses prices are expected to remain firm this year as well because production is unlikely to increase significantly because of drought for the second straight year.
As per the Agriculture Ministry's second estimate, pulses production is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally higher than the previous years production of 17.15 million tonnes.
India is the world's largest producer of pulses, but its domestic demand outstrips production. The shortfall is met through imports.
Meanwhile, as per the Wholesale Price Index data for March, release today, prices of pulses continued to remain high -- up 34.45 percent from year-ago levels -- making it the 15th straight month of double-digit inflation in lentils, though several other essential kitchen staples have seen moderation in rates.