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Now, pulse import to fight prices
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 12
Worried over the political fallout of the continuing high prices of essential commodities, the government today decided to import additional 15 lakh tonnes of pulses over the next six-eight months to bring down prices.

“The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval to the import of 1.5 mt of pulses through public sector agencies to stabilise the prices in the market,” Minister of Information and Broadcasting Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told reporters after the meeting.

The government is concerned that despite the import of about 18 lakh tonnes of pulses in 2006-07, the prices have not come down to the desired level. The customs duty on import of pulses has already been reduced to zero till August 1. India is facing an estimated shortfall of 3.2 mt of pulses.

Dasmunshi said the government had asked the public sector agencies NAFED, STC and MMTC to formulate market-wise and month-wise import plan with regard to import of pulses over a period of six-eight months, depending upon the market cycle.

The imports will include 0.75 mt of urad, masur, moong and toor. In addition, the government has decided to import 0.75 mt of yellow peas (white matar) and other pulses, Dasmunshi said. He said the public sector agencies concerned would also qualify for subsidy not exceeding 15 per cent without benchmarking lowest level of loss.

The CCEA also cleared implementation of various four-laning projects that will cost the exchequer over Rs 8,900 cr.

While the implementation of four-laning of 780 km of national highways on build, operate and transfer basis in Bihar will cost Rs 6,782 cr, the four-laning projects in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will cost Rs 1,616cr, according to a press note issued after the meeting.

The CCEA also gave its approval for undertaking the Rs 557-cr project for providing 4-lane connectivity to the proposed international container transshipment terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam in Kochi (Kerala) using cess funds.

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