Under attack over sharp rise in prices of essential food items, including vegetables, the Centre on Thursday asked states to crack down on black marketers and said that it could extend a ban on futures trading on sugar.
"We will see how hoarding and black marketing will not be there. These types of decisions can be implemented in the states...States have reported they have detained hardly 156 persons to check prices (in January-October period). But I think they should take more action in this regard," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the Lok Sabha.
The government in May banned sugar futures till December and "if required, authorities concerned will give serious thought to extend it also," Pawar said in his reply to a discussion on price rise of essential commodities.
Besides sugar, there is a a ban on futures trading on rice, tur and urad.
Intervening in the debate, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee blamed some states for shortage of some commodities, saying mismanagement by states is leading to short supply.
Observing that prices of wheat and rice are reasonably stable, Pawar said situation is serious in case of pulses, sugar, onion and potato. He said price rise in potato and onion is temporary and situation will improve after the arrival of rabi crop.
His remarks assume importance as food inflation crossed 15 per cent, fuelled by more than doubling of potato prices in a year.