Coronavirus Outbreak: Prices of pulses touch three digits in Mumbai and Delhi; potato, onion and cooking oil rates go north across India

New Delhi: In the last one week, the retail price of Urad dal in Gurugram jumped by Rs 30 a kilogram due to panic buying, short supply due to bottlenecks in transportation and hoarding by the unscrupulous traders.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, Urad dal was selling for Rs 70 per kilogram on 1 April and the price has gone up to Rs 100 a kilogram on 8 April 2020.

India's financial capital Mumbai, which is one of the worst affected cities by the COVID-19 has also witnessed a surge in the prices of essential commodities. Urad dal that was selling for Rs 108 per kilogram on 1 April 2020 is now priced at Rs 122 a kilogram.

 Coronavirus Outbreak: Prices of pulses touch three digits in Mumbai and Delhi; potato, onion and cooking oil rates go north across India

Representational image. Reuters

Smaller cities appear to be the worst hit. Bhuj in Gujarat witnessed a huge jump in the price of Urad dal before and after the lockdown. On 20 March, the price of Urad dal in Bhuj was Rs 60 per kilogram which has gone up to Rs 110 per kilogram by 8 April, which is a whopping increase of Rs 50 per kilogram.

In the southern states, the price of Urad dal has gone up by more than Rs 20 per kilogram after the lockdown. In Coimbatore, the price of Urad dal was Rs 104 a kilogram before the lockdown. However, within two weeks it jumped to Rs 132 per kilogram.

In Puducherry, the price of Urad dal jumped by Rs 20 and in Palakkad by Rs 23 per kilogram during the period of lockdown. A note submitted to the Union Cabinet by Department of Consumer Affairs on 17 March 2020 giving out a detailed report for the month of February had shown little variation in the prices of essential commodities between January-February. In fact, Urad dal prices had no price variation between January and February this year, the note had revealed.

The latest data of the Department of Consumer Affairs on essential commodities from 19 March to 8 April 2020 revealed that retail price of rice was less impacted in the lockdown. The price of rice witnessed little increase in Chandigarh, from Rs 28 per kilogram on 19 March to Rs 32 per kilogram on 8 April 2020.

However, Hyderabad and Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu witnessed a sharp increase of Rs 10 and Rs 11 per kilogram respectively in the retail price of rice before and after the lockdown. The Department of Consumer Affairs administers The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (EC Act) and Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

The Price Monitoring Cell of the Department of Consumer Affairs monitors the retail and wholesale prices of 22 essential commodities on a daily basis from 114 centres across the country. Earlier, raids were conducted in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra in a bid to nab traders hoarding essentials. The government had recently warned against hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities while assuring the public that it has enough stock.

Nevertheless, Tur (Arhar) dal prices have gone up in major cities.

In Delhi, Tur dal retail price on 20 March was Rs 93 per kilogram which has gone up to Rs 101 on 8 April. In Chandigarh, it is selling for Rs 91 per kilogram, up from Rs 76 a kilogram on 20 March. In Shimla, Tur dal price is up by Rs 15 per kilogram.

Goa has witnessed a sharp increase in Tur dal price. The retail price of Tur dal at Panaji on 20 March was Rs 90 per kilogram which has increased by Rs 35 on 8 April and it is now selling for Rs 125 a kilogram. Cities like Mumbai, Jaipur have also seen an increase in Tur dal price.

In Mumbai, it is up by Rs 13 per kilogram within three weeks and in Jaipur, the retail price per kilogram increased by Rs 14. The variation in Kolkata is merely Rs 1 but in the southern states, the price of Tur dal spiked in the last 18-19 days.

In Chennai, Tur dal price was Rs 96 per kilogram on 20 March and now it is selling for Rs 113 per kilogram, an increase of Rs 17 per kilogram. In Karimnagar and Adilabad, the two cities of Telangana, the prices of Tur dal increased by Rs 19 and Rs 20 per kilogram respectively.

The Department of Consumer Affairs note had observed in February that Tur dal prices were in fact declining. From Rs 88 per kilogram in January this year, Tur dal prices had come down to Rs 87 per kilogram in February.

The prices of groundnut oil and packed mustard oil have also been hit. Just before the lockdown, the retail price of packed groundnut oil in Delhi was Rs 162 per kilogram which has gone up to Rs 171 per kilogram on 8 April. In Goa, the price of groundnut oil has increased by Rs 17 per kilogram while in Mumbai there is a jump of Rs 5 per kilogram within two weeks.

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In one of the worst affected states like Kerala, the prices of groundnut oil is up by Rs 20 per kilogram during the lockdown while in certain cities of Andhra Pradesh it surged by Rs 18 per kilogram.  As per the ministry's data, the retail price of packed mustard oil was also hit after the lockdown.

In Gurgaon, mustard oil price on 19 March was Rs 98 per litre which is now Rs 120, a jump of Rs 22 per lire. In the National capital, there is a jump of Rs 8 per kilogram in the retail price of mustard oil. Cities like Panaji, Jaipur and Lucknow are also affected by the sudden jump in the price of mustard oil.

The retail price of tomato is also up at almost all the major centres despite being under the monitoring of the Department of Consumer Affairs. In Delhi, tomato price per kilogram increased by Rs 10 while in Mumbai it is Rs 19 per kilogram after the lockdown. The price of tomato in Delhi on 19 March was Rs 23 per kilogram which is now selling at Rs 33 per kilogram.

Similarly in Mumbai, the retail price of tomato was Rs 28 per kilogram on 19 March which is now selling for Rs 47 per kilogram on 8 April. Cities like Kolkata and Bangalore have shown no variation in the retail price of tomato while Thrissur and Kozhikode witnessed a jump of Rs 9 and Rs 6 per kilogram respectively between 19 March and 8 April.

Potato prices have gone up in some cities after the lockdown on 24 March midnight. In Chandigarh, potato retail price on 25 March was Rs 13 per kilogram which is now Rs 20. In Mumbai, the price of potato per kilogram was Rs 26 on 25 March and it has now increased to Rs 33 a kilogram.

Significantly, the government has been able to control the potato prices in Delhi and Gurgaon which had witnessed a huge jump the week after the lockdown was announced. Between 25 to 30 March, the retail price of potato in Gurgram was Rs 40 and it has now been brought down to Rs 25 per kilogram.

Similarly, in Delhi, the price of potato has been brought down from Rs 37 to Rs 30 per kilogram on 8 April 2020. The government data claims that milk prices have been controlled in all the four metro cities -- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

However, a sharp increase in the retail prices of milk is being noticed in Shimla, Gurgram, Chandigarh and Varanasi. The government has more or less controlled the prices of onion. Only three cities — Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune — witnessed a substantial increase in the price of onion, ranging from Rs 4 to Rs 8 per kilogram.

The agriculture ministry on Thursday said that 109 trains are supplying essential commodities including perishable items and these services are expected to be scaled up. These special trains are covering 59 routes across the country to deliver the commodities. The ministry said it had advised the states to start procurement of pulses and oilseeds under the price support scheme for the next 90 days and to ensure remunerative prices for perishable items.

Updated Date: Apr 10, 2020 21:44:59 IST



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