Onion woes: Dikshit says situation serious, asks central help

Last Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 21:47

New Delhi: Mindful of possible impact of rocketing onion prices on assembly polls which are just six weeks away, a worried Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday asked the Centre to take immediate measure to rein in the rates and sought Election Commission`s permission for sale of the bulb at a reasonable price.
Dikshit, eyeing an unprecedented fourth victory in the December 4 polls, met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Food Minister K V Thomas and requested them to improve supply of the kitchen staple to Delhi.

"The situation is very serious. We are trying to stabilise the prices," she said.

The Chief Minister specifically requested Pawar to direct National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) to make available adequate quantity of onions for Delhi on no-profit no-loss basis so that its price, which is hovering around Rs 100 a kg in retail market, comes down.

Co-operative major NAFED yesterday floated tender for import of the bulb from Pakistan, Iran, China and Egypt.

In 1998, Congress had come to power in Delhi defeating the incumbent BJP government riding on high onion prices.

"We are also exploring the possibility of procuring onions at wholesale rate from major onion producing states preferably from the cities of Nasik and Pune to improve supply," the Chief Minister said.

Dikshit said government has approached the Election Commission requesting it to allow sale of onion at reasonable price across the city.

The model code of conduct restricts the government from going ahead with the initiative.

"The situation is serious. That is why we have requested the Election Commission to allow us to sell onion at reasonable prices so that people can be insulated," she said, adding 8,000 quintals of onions have arrived in the city which could help ease prices.

"So far, prolonged rains have affected supplies. We hope in next 2-3 days prices will come down. Even though the crop is good, but a lot of it got damaged due to prolonged and heavy rains. We are trying our best to see prices come down. I request traders to stop black marketing and hoarding," she said.

She said that a team of officials has been sent to Maharashtra to negotiate price and get onions.

"We will soon amend APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) Act. Delhi is not a producing state but a consuming and trading state. Control of prices has to be there in producing states," she added

Officials said traders have started selling onions through 55 mobile vans across the city at reasonable price.

To mitigate the effect of soaring onion prices, Delhi government had last month started selling onions at reasonable rates through 50 mobile vans across the city but discontinued it when the prices came down.

Meanwhile, BJP stepped up its attack on Delhi Government accusing it of doing nothing to bring down the prices.

Former BJP president and party`s election in-charge of Delhi Nitin Gadkari said "onion is definitely going to bring tears to Sheila Dikshit."

Gadkari also rejected Dikshit`s observation that hoarding in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra has resulted in rise in onion prices in Delhi.

"There is no system available in the country for storage of onion," he said.

The party`s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan also slammed the government, terming it as "totally insensitive" towards people`s plight.

"This government is totally insensitive. It is not only price of onion. The prices of all vegetables and fruits have been skyrocketing. People are really fed up with the government," Vardhan said.

Rejecting BJP`s criticism, Dikshit came down hard on BJP and said nobody should play politics on the issue when people are being hit hard.

Dikshit had yesterday said going by the price of onion under BJP rule in Delhi 15 years ago, it should have "risen to Rs 400 per kg" by now.
To mitigate the effect of soaring onion prices, Delhi government had last month started selling onions at reasonable rates through 50 mobile vans across the city but discontinued it when the prices came down.

Meanwhile, BJP stepped up its attack on Delhi Government accusing it of doing nothing to bring down the prices.

Former BJP president and party`s election in-charge of Delhi Nitin Gadkari said "onion is definitely going to bring tears to Sheila Dikshit."

Gadkari also rejected Dikshit`s observation that hoarding in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra has resulted in rise in onion prices in Delhi.

"There is no system available in the country for storage of onion," he said.

The party`s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan also slammed the government, terming it as "totally insensitive" towards people`s plight.

"This government is totally insensitive. It is not only price of onion. The prices of all vegetables and fruits have been skyrocketing. People are really fed up with the government," Vardhan said.

Rejecting BJP`s criticism, Dikshit came down hard on BJP and said nobody should play politics on the issue when people are being hit hard.

Dikshit had yesterday said going by the price of onion under BJP rule in Delhi 15 years ago, it should have "risen to Rs 400 per kg" by now.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 21:47

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