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Blaming the rise in food prices on hoarding and black-marketing, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the government will come down heavily on hoarders and bring down prices at the earliest.
Paswan, who is also Minister of Consumer Affairs, said the government's top priority is to control prices.
"There is no shortage of onion and sugar in the country. We have huge stocks of wheat and rice. Prices are rising due to hoarding and black-marketing...The NDA government will not tolerate hoarding and corruption," he told reporters here.
Stating that prices have risen due to apprehensions that agricultural production would be affected because of a poor monsoon, Paswan said the government is taking steps to control prices and already onion rates have stabilised.
"We will be able to control food prices at the earliest," he said, while highlighting that action was taken against hoarders in the national capital.
Paswan said a conference of state food and consumer affairs ministers has been convened on July 4 to discuss ways to control inflation and implementation of the food law.
Rising prices of essential food items such as vegetables, fruits and cereals pushed up wholesale price index-based inflation to a five-month high of 6.01 per cent in May.
The Centre has advised state governments to delist fruits and vegetables from the Agricultural Produce Market Committee to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce directly in the market, Paswan said.
Asked about the decision to offload 50 lakh tonnes of rice, he said it would be implemented in the next two weeks.
On sugar, he said the decisions to hike import duty and give interest-free loans to mills were taken to help the industry clear Rs 13,000 crore of cane arrears and not to favour millers.
Paswan said these decisions would not be implemented until the industry gives an undertaking that the funds would be used to make payments to sugarcane farmers. Stating that the government has taken a serious note of recent increase in market prices of some of the food articles, Paswan said, "It would take stern action, jointly with State Governments, to check all such unreasonable hike as there is enough stocks of foodgrains and other essential commodities in the country".
Paswan also added that effective implementation of food security law would protect the poor from increase in market prices of food articles, especially wheat and rice.
Therefore, he said, "Plan of action for early implementation of the act in states where