New Delhi, May 10: Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday admitted that the prices of pulses have increased lately but attributed it to hoarding and malpractices by unscrupulous elements and private importers.
"We keep eyes of 22 essential commodities and other than pulses, prices of no other item has increased," Paswan said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
He said private importers who purchase pulses from abroad keep the stocks at ports and bring it to theAopen market only when the demand goes up, and prices have increased mainly due to "gap" between demand and local production.
"In 2015-16, there was pulse production of 173 lakh tonnes, while the country's need is 237 lakh tonnes," Paswan said answering to a supplementary question from Bharatiya Janata Party member Prahlad Joshi, who also wanted to know the central government will take steps to ensure that the state governments act to ensure price stabilisation.
While hoarding is another reason, the minister said adding the states have been asked to take action whereever necessary against such elements.
Even central agencies like customs are also investigating such malpractices by importers, he said.
Paswan said state governments should also do their part and ensure "sufficient stocks of pulses", adding the states have not yet informed the central government of their pulse requirements.
"States which blame the government of India have not forwarded their demands," he said.
The minister also said water scarcity and dry spell often affects the productivity of crops.
During question hour pertaining to pulses, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav virtually created a flutter when he said the fact that there has been substantial decrease in the number of cows and bullocks in the country is a matter of concern.
"This is an important question as cows are often slaughtered and sent to the US," he said prompting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to quickly rule that the question is only about pulses.