Odisha government asks collectors to control dal prices

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has told district collectors to work with traders to rein in high prices of dals (pulses) which have not responded to a cut in value-added tax (VAT) to one percent, an official said on Saturday. "It is now noticed that the price of arhar has gone down to some extent, but prices of other dals remain unchanged after waiver of VAT," said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra in a letter to the district collectors. The state government had cut VAT on dals from five percent to one percent with effect from July 1 to help check their spriralling prices, even though traders demanded that VAT should be completely waived as has been done in about 22 other states.  The state government collects a revenue of about Rs 45 crore from these commodities annually. Mohapatra said prices in Odisha are being affected by those prevailing in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and other states from where dals are being procured.  "It is learnt that the production of pulses have been reduced due to drought like situation and unseasonal rains in the states and as a result supply has declined," he said. "It is, therefore, requested to convene a meeting of the traders of your district to track source price, wholesale price and retail price of different dals and ensure availability of the same to the consumers with reasonable profit of margin," said Mohapatra. He asked the collectors to direct the civil supplies officials to monitor the prices till normalcy is restored. If necessary, the unscrupulous traders may be booked under the provision of Essential Commodities Act and on grounds of Stock Holding Limit Control Order,2010 and Odisha Declaration of Stock and Prices of Essential Commodities Order,1973, said Mohapatra.