“Several factors have led to the rise in price of pulses. Rainfall was low during the last two years causing damage to crops. Besides import was less,” he said, replying to questions at a press conference in Lucknow.

Mr Paswan said last year, pulse production was 171 lakh tonnes whereas the requirement was 226 lakh tonnes. This year, the requirement has been pegged at 236 lakh tonnes.

The Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution said private importers had imported lesser quantity of pulses than what was needed, due to which prices rose.

“Now the Centre has created a buffer stock to meet the situation,” he said, adding the state governments would get pulses from Centre at Rs. 66 per kg for arhar and Rs. 83 per kg for urad.

It is for the states to make the commodity available to people within a price ceiling of Rs. 120, he added.

Expressing grief over reports of starvation deaths in certain parts of the country, he said there is no shortage of foodgrains. Regarding a starvation death in Banda in Uttar Pradesh, he said if someone dies without food, it is a matter of concern.

It is the duty of the state governments to collect foodgrains from the Centre and ensure availability among the poor, he said, but admitted that there was some laxity at the Public Distribution System level as well.

For this, the Centre has asked states to set up state food commission and monitoring cells at the district level.