VIJAYAWADA: A stampede like situation occurred in Cheepurupalle, Paravathipuram's Rythu bazaars on Thursday morning, when people waiting at the markets since before dawn to purchase onions, rushed en-masse when the gates of the bazaar opened.
A large number of people mostly women and elderly rushed to the onion counters set up by the State Government to sell the commodity at the subsidized price of Rs 25 per kilogram.
Women and children bore the brunt as the able-bodied people used force to jump the queue.
However, marketing officials said normalcy was restored after the initial rush of people to the onion counters.
The reason for the unprecedented rush at the government-sponsored ‘onion sales counters’ was reported to be the steep increase in the prices of onions in the open market.
A kilogram of onion, which was used to be available for Rs 80 to Rs 100 till a couple of days ago was priced anywhere between Rs 120 to Rs 150 per kilo.
The problem further aggravated as the subsidized onion stock fell short to meet the growing rush. Those who could not get onion were venting their anger, the officials said.
As the onion stock fell short, people were enraged and pulled up the estate officer, some of whom allegedly attacked the official.
To control the situation, the officer sought police protection, who also fell prey to the furious crowd. Later barricades were put up at onion counters in all the bazaars.
Rajeswari, a housewife at Cheepurupalle said that the government should streamline the distribution of subsidized onion. It should engage the ward volunteers to ensure door delivery of onions to prevent violent incidents like this, she said.
Meanwhile, at Kancharapalem, Visakhapatnam, where the price of onions in retail markets touched Rs 125 per kg, people grew restive over the scarcity of onions, some resorted to beating up the estate official.
Responding on the situation, YSR leader Mopidevi Venkataraman said the government is making every effort to ensure the common man gets the onion at a subsidized price.
Speaking to media persons in Kakinada, the Minister said onion crisis is not just there in Andhra Pradesh, but even in other states as well.
“The situation is due to the gap between demand and supply. Due to heavy rains, onion crops in Kurnool district, which meets two-thirds of the onion demand in the state suffered damage,” he explained.
In view of the steep increase in onion prices in the retail market, the State Government through market intervention program started selling the commodity at a subsidized price of Rs 25 per kilo compared to Rs 40 per kilo in Telangana, he said adding that onion is also being procured from Sholapur, Maharashtra to meet the demand.
He warned those illegally hoarding onion or black marketing it with stringent punishment.
Meanwhile, the State government has procured 24,416 quintals of onions spending Rs 14 crore including Rs 8 crore from the Market Intervention Funds.
However, the price of onions continued to increase and on Thursday, a record high of Rs 13,010 per quintal was recorded at Kurnool Agriculture Market surpassing the previous high of Rs 12,860 per quintal recorded on Wednesday.
Farmers in Kurnool cultivated onions less in the current Rabi compared to previous Rabi season (2018-19), after suffering losses.
The supply of onions was more than the demand last year resulting in a low price for the agriculture produce.
Now the situation has turned 180 degrees. Even when the farmers are bringing the onions harvesting them prematurely, the demand is not being met.
With arrivals to the market steadily decreasing, it is being feared that the price of onions might touch Rs 15,000 per quintal mark in next fortnight.