In a bid to curb hoarding and price rises, the Centre has tightened wheat stock holding norms for wholesalers, big chain retailers and processors. Traders and wholesalers can now keep wheat stock of up to 500 tonnes- down from 1,000 tonnes, while big chain retailers can hold 5 tonnes in each outlet and total 500 tonnes at all their depots instead of 1,000 tonnes, the food ministry said in a statement.
Processors will be allowed to maintain 60 per cent instead of 70 per cent of their monthly installed capacity multiplied by the remaining months till April 2024, the statement said.
It is pertinent to mention thst the stock limits on wheat were imposed on June 12, 2023, applicable till March this year, to manage the overall food security and to prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation.
The ministry said officials of both 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.
The ministry said all wheat stocking entities are required to register on the wheat stock limit portal and update the stock position every Friday. Any entity that is not registered on the portal or violates the stock limits will be subject to suitable punitive action under the Essential Commodities Act,1955.
In case the stocks held by the above entities are higher than the prescribed limit, they will have to bring the same to the prescribed stock limits within 30 days of the issue of the notification.
Meanwhile, the Centre is selling FCI wheat to bulk users via the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to improve domestic availability and check prices. Out of 101.5 lakh tonne allocated for sale at Rs 2150 per quintal under the OMSS, about 80.04 lakh tonne of wheat has been sold via weekly e-auctions to processors, the ministry said, adding that an additional 25 lakh tonne can be offloaded under the OMSS during January-March 2024, depending on requirement.
State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) is also issuing wheat to central Co-operative organizations like NAFED, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar for processing into atta (wheat flour) and sell it under the 'Bharat' brand at Rs 27.50/kg.