The State Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Dr Nazrul Hussain today told the Assembly that deficit production and increase of price at source due to rising demand were at the root of the price rise in essential commodities, especially foodgrains, in the State. Replying to a question raised by Ananta Deka of CPM during zero hour, Dr Islam said that the current price rise was a national phenomenon and affected Assam and the North-East more because of the transportation costs. The Minister said that his department was coordinating with district and subdivisional administrations for properly monitoring the developments so that unscrupulous elements could not take advantage of the situation. The situation in places like Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur, etc., were also kept track of and constantly compared with that of the State. "Deficit production in rice, dal, wheat, mustard, etc., and the lowering of Government subsidies are having an impact on price rise. The recent export of 5 lakh MT rice to Bangladesh has also added to the growing demand in the source States,' Dr Islam said. "Common rice which was sold at Rs 12 a kg in Kolkata on October 8, 2007 shot up to Rs 14 on February 8, 2008. The same rice is being sold in Delhi at Rs 17 a kg. In Guwahati, common rice which fetched Rs 12.50-Rs 14 a kg in October last year, was sold at Rs 14-Rs 16 in January,' he said. The Minister further said that the rise in import prices of various edible oils was contributing to the price rise. "India imports a sizeable quantity of refined vegetable oil and refined rapeseed oil from Malaysia, and recently there has been considerable increase in the their prices. Again, mustard oil produced in the country has also become costlier,' he said. Dr Islam said that the department, during 2007, registered 726 cases regarding the public distribution system (PDS), which "showed that we are taking steps to streamline the system.' Moreover, the Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO) has been entrusted with the job of making an inquiry into the PDS scam that rocked the State last year. Dr Islam said that the six per cent railway fare cut for the North-Eastern States would come into effect from April only.