After onions, it now seems to be the turn of dhals to pinch families’ pockets. Prices of dhals , especially thur dhal ( tuvaram paruppu ) has shot up in the last month. The cheapest dhal - channa , which was priced at Rs. 60 a kilogram two months ago, now costs Rs. 90.
“The prices are slowly inching towards Rs. 200 a kilo. I cannot stop using thur dhal or urad dhal ( ulundu ). They are very much part of my daily cooking. So instead, I have started buying dhals from the fair price shop. It looks alright and costs lesser than the local grocery shop,” said homemaker Hemalatha Krishnamurthy.
Grocers say that the increase in prices of dhals has forced them to invest more to procure stocks. “In the place of Rs. 1 lakh, we spend Rs. 3-4 lakh to stock up. We have stopped buying masoor dhal as it has touched Rs. 120 a kilo and our customers too do not want that variety,” said G. Rajesh of Rajeshwari Stores in Velachery.
Manish Parmar, vice-president, Madras Kirana merchants Association, said that with major festivals just around the corner, prices are likely to go up even more due to the demand. “We do not see prices coming down even by Deepavali,” he said.
K. Mohan, State general secretary, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaipu, said the Association has been demanding that the government begin the process for imports as soon as they know that the harvest will not be good. “The next crop will only be in January,” he said.
With the prices of onions just stabilising, hoteliers are a worried lot with the increase in dhal prices. “If this trend continues, we will have to hike prices by at least 5 per cent. We do calculate prices considering regional fluctuations. But this is indeed a steep one,” said R. Rajkumar, secretary, Chennai Hotels Association.
Bimal Kothari, vice-chairman, Indian Pulses and Grains Association, said that over the next four months, 25 lakh tonnes of dhals will be imported by the government to tide over the present shortfall.
“Unseasonal rains during the harvest and insufficient rains during the cultivation have caused a reduction in production. The prices of thuvar and uraddhal touched historic highs this time,” he said.