Tamilnadu Food and Civil Supplies Minister E V Velu on Thursday said the international tenders were floated by the government for importing 10,000 tonnes of lentils from Canada. According to a leading toor dhal merchant from Virudhunagar district the government had already procured a variety called masoor lentils in June at Rs 68.19 per kg and July at Rs 65.30 per kg this year and of which sizeable tonnes was distributed to noon-meal centres across State. Now again tenders have been floated to procure this same type of lentils from Canada.
Recalling that similar incidents happened during 1996-2001 when the DMK was in power, he said the then BJP-led government at the centre faced similar price rise of essential commodities. Following this, the then DMK regime in 1998 decided to procure masoor dhal from Canada.
‘In 1998, official sources from quality control cell which inspected the procurement centres of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other State agencies said it was found that consumption of masoor dhal would lead to arthritis. After protests from various corners, the then DMK regime had stopped the import of masoor lentils, he added.
But now how come the state government has started importing masoor lentils from Canada after it was found unfit for consumption, a social activist wondered. However, some agriculturists say lentils contain high levels of proteins and are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world. It is also a good substitute for vegetarians who could not go for meat. But it is admitted the taste is not the same as compared to the normal toor dhal.
When contacted State CPI secretary Tha Pandian said the matter would be discussed at the party meeting which would be convened shortly and would decide on the future course of action in this regard. CPI(M) central committee member W R Varadharajan said the masoor dhal was not used in Tamilnadu.
‘Import of sub-standard dhals should not be entertained in any way,’ he added. Further pulses could be imported from the neighbouring countries of India for it would be fit for the consumption of Indians, he said. This matter of import of masoor lentil from Canada would be discussed at the party meeting which would be convened on 1 September.