New Delhi– In view of the high prices of pulses both in the wholesale and retail markets in the country, the Centre on Tuesday decided to import about 20,000 tonnes of ‘chana dal’ and 80,000 tonnes of ‘masoor’ dal to strengthen its buffer stock.

A decision to import these dals was taken at a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee, headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande here, an official source said.

“The government has decided to import further 20,000 tonnes of chana and 80,000 tonnes of masoor to strengthen buffer stock,” a Food Ministry statement said after the committee meeting.

The meeting discussed about an “alternate mechanism” for the release of pulses from the buffer stock at an appropriate time for effective market intervention if sufficient quantity is not lifted by the states, official sources said here.

Senior officials from the ministries of agriculture, food, commerce and finance, besides representatives from state-run trading firm Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India and cooperative major Nafed were also present.

The Centre has been importing pulses through the MMTC, which has so far contracted about 86,000 tonnes of pulses.

Lentils from the buffer stock are given to states for retail sale at a subsidised rate but not many states are lifting the commodities allocated to them.

Meanwhile, the state governments have been requested to expedite lifting of ‘tur’ and ‘urad’ from the buffer stock. Tur is given at a rate of Rs 67/kg and urad at 82/kg, sources said.

Pulses production is estimated to be lower at 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) as against the annual expected demand of 23.5 million tonnes.