NEW DELHI: As onion prices continue to spiral, the Centre on Friday warned that strict action will be taken against traders in Delhi, Maharashtra and Rajasthan who are trying to manipulate the prices.
This was the assessment at a high-level meeting on Friday where Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava briefed Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on the onion situation and its availability across the country and also apprised him of the action taken so far, including banning the export of the vegetable and setting stock limits for retailers.
Several key decisions have been taken to further ease the pressure on prices and improve overall availability of the onion across the nation. Despite government announcing imports, and exports already banned, prices have hit the Rs 100/kg mark.
The government has said strict and appropriate action will be taken against such traders in Delhi, Maharashtra and Rajasthan "who are constantly in touch with each other and are trying to manipulate the prices".
In addition, the Centre has asked MMTC to immediately import a substantial amount of onion from Dubai and other countries to augment domestic supplies. Approval has also been granted to MMTC to reduce the mandatory time for tendering as there is an immediate requirement domestically. A tender has been issued.
In a bid to expedite imports, a team comprising of officials from MMTC, NAFED, Department of Agriculture and Department of Consumer Affairs has been directed to visit Turkey and Egypt on an urgent basis to take stock of the supplies of the onion in these countries and facilitate imports to India.
According to the Consumer Affairs Ministry, NAFED has been directed to speed up its domestic procurement process especially from Alwar in Rajasthan and supply to states that have already indicated their demand. So far 300 tons of onion per day have been demanded which will be progressively increased as per the demands of state governments.
NAFED has also been asked to provide maximum amounts so as to ensure a healthy supply to onion-deficient states. NAFED is being facilitated to procure the same. In addition, the Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the Delhi and Rajasthan governments and APMCs to keep their mandis open from November 9-12, so as to prevent any disruption in supplies.
The Centre is constantly in touch with state governments to ensure that their demands are being catered to. Consultations with state governments are ongoing through videoconference to assess their demands and requirements along with supply position.
Another video conference is being held on Friday along with agriculture and horticulture departments of state governments to further take stock of the situation.