Union ministers hint at lifting curb on banned pulses

The government on Thursday indicated that it is in favour of lifting the decades-old ban on some varieties of 'khesari' pulses, if it was found fit for human consumption.

Both food minister Ramvilas Paswan and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh came out in support of lifting the ban.

Paswan, who was addressing the media on the completion of 19 months of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government also said lifting the ban would help reduce pressure on pulses imports. Khesari dal was banned in 1961 due to health concerns.

Singh, meanwhile, said three hybrid varieties of 'khesari' dal named 'Ratan', 'Prateek' and Mahateara' have been developed by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and state agriculture universities which have low levels of the oxalyldiaminopropionic acid (ODAP) toxin.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has sought health ministry's approval to hold public consultation on approval of the three varieties.

"I read in newspapers that three new varieties of 'Khesari' dal have been developed. If these varieties prove to be fit for human consumption, I think its cultivation should be allowed. This will help reduce stress on pulses production and imports," Paswan said.

Paswan also said the National Food Security Act, which was piloted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government, is now expected to be implemented in all states, barring Tamil Nadu, by April this year.

This would bring the entire country under a common law and norms for public distribution of subsidised foodgrains, for the first time since Independence.

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