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Extra food grains released for Public Distribution System (PDS)
5 million tonnes of wheat and rice have been allocated for the Below Poverty Line and Above Poverty Line beneficiaries through PDS. The ban on export on pulses and the permission to import pulses at zero duty is extended till March 2012.

The Centre on Tuesday announced an additional allocation of five million tonnes of wheat and rice to States for distribution to the below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) beneficiaries through the Targeted Public Distribution System. This is in addition to the 25 lakh tonnes of grains released for the BPL population in August.

The government also extended the ban on export of pulses and the permission to import pulses at zero duty till March 2012. Stock holding limit on sugar will also continue for the next three months to keep prices in check.

These decisions, taken at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), chaired by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, are meant to contain food inflation and keep prices of wheat, rice, pulses and sugar in check in the coming months.

Announcing the decisions, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said: “The EGoM has decided to give additional 25 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice to States at BPL rates. Another 25 lakh tonnes of additional wheat and rice will be given to States at APL rates. Both these allocations will be over and above the normal quota.”

The grains for BPL will be sold at the public distribution system rate of Rs. 4.15 a kg for wheat and Rs. 5.65 for rice. For the APL, wheat will be available at Rs. 8.45 a kg and rice at Rs. 8.45.

The Minister said States could lift their additional quotas from Wednesday.

Food stocks are at 48 million tonnes and with the new crop coming in, the government needs to create storage space. Apart from this, the step to release additional grains is also seen as a measure to rein in food inflation. Food inflation increased to 12.13 per cent for the week ending December 11.

On sugar, Mr. Pawar said the country was in a “comfortable position” with expectations of about 245 lakh tonnes of production this year, against the demand of about 220 lakh tonnes.

The issue of raising the central issue price of levy sugar sold to BPL in the TPDS was not discussed.

On the rising prices of onions, tomatoes and garlic, the Minister said it was outside the purview of the EGoM.

A meeting of the Committee of Secretaries earlier reviewed the rising prices of food items including vegetables.

Source: The Hindu