The Centre Thursday further reduced the wheat stock limit for traders/wholesalers, big chain retailers and processors, in a bid to curb hoarding and check price rise ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
As per the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the wheat stock limit has been revised from 1,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 500 MT for traders/wholesalers and big chain retailers. For processors, the wheat stock limit has been fixed at 60 per cent of their monthly installed capacity multiplied by remaining months till April 2024.
Till now, the wheat stock limit for processors was 70 per cent of monthly installed capacity multiplied by remaining months of 2023-24. However, no change has been made for retailers and the wheat stock limit for them has been kept at 5MT for each retail outlet.
In a statement, the ministry said, “In order to manage the overall food security and to prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation, the Government of India imposed stock limits on Wheat applicable to Traders/Wholesalers, Retailers, Big Chain Retailers and Processors in all States and Union Territories. The Removal of Licensing Requirements, Stock Limits and Movement Restrictions on Specified Foodstuffs (Amendment) Order, 2023 was issued on 12 June 2023 and is applicable until 31st March 2024 for all States and Union Territories.”
“All wheat stocking entities are required to register on the wheat stock limit portal (https://evegoils.nic.in/wsp/login) and update the stock position on every Friday. Any entity which is found to have not registered on the portal or violates the stock limits will be subject to suitable punitive action under Section 6 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act,1955,” it said.
“In case the stocks held by above entities are higher than the above prescribed limit, they shall have to bring the same to the prescribed stock limits within 30 days of issue of the notification. Officials of Central and State Governments will be closely monitoring enforcement of these stock limits to ensure that no artificial scarcity of wheat is created in the country,” it said.
The statement further said, “Also, government has taken a series of steps under the Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) [OMSS(D)]. A quantity of 101.5 LMT wheat at a subsidised price of Rs. 2150/quintal has been allocated for calibrated release into the domestic open market by the FCI, through weekly e-auctions. Additional 25 LMT can be offloaded under OMSS during Jan-Mar 2024, depending on requirement. So far, 80.04 LMT has been offloaded by FCI to processors through weekly e-auctions, and this has increased availability of wheat into the open market at affordable prices, benefitting general consumers across the country.”
“FCI is also issuing wheat to Central Co-operative organizations like NAFED, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar for processing into atta and for sale under ‘Bharat Atta’ brand through their physical/mobile outlets, at an affordable price of Rs. 27.50/kg. Areas where prices are reigning higher have been identified, and the agencies are undertaking targeted sales in these areas. 7.5 LMT of wheat has been allocated for converting into Atta and sale under ‘Bharat Atta’ brand. The allocations to NAFED/NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar are being reviewed periodically to ensure sufficient availability,” it said.
“The Department of Food and Public Distribution is maintaining a close watch over the stock position of Wheat to control prices and ensure easy availability in the country,” it added.