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As onion prices continue to spiral, BJP & AAP trade barbs

As onion prices continue to spiral, BJP & AAP trade barbs
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While the entire country is facing serious difficulties in buying the vegetable, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and the BJP-led Central government have engaged in a blame-game again. 

The Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday blamed the Kejriwal-led government for not taking adequate action against hoarders for spiralling the prices. On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded a probe of NAFED for excluding the national Capital from the list of cities that benefited from the supply of onions at reasonable prices.

In a press conference, the party pointed out that NAFED had claimed to have procured 2,500 tonne of onions, using the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF), stored in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, when prices were low.

Speaking at the press meet, AAP spokesperson Ashutosh said: “It is also claimed that these onions were to be supplied to eight cities — Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Chennai and Hyderabad.” 

“It is shocking that the national Capital did not figure in the NAFED list of cities, which were to benefit from this onion supply scheme at reasonable prices,” he added.

“The Central government is not able to handle the onion crisis properly. Where are the onions procured by NAFED and how was the fund given to it utilised?” Ashutosh asked, throwing the questions at the Centre. After reviewing the supply and the price situation here on Monday, Paswan urged all state governments to take stringent actions against hoarders to rein in prices, while assuring that steps taken to import the key kitchen staple and curb exports will help control the rates.

On the sharp rise in onion rates in Delhi, Paswan said: “Last year, adequate measures were taken against hoarders but this time the state government has not taken enough steps.” During the 2014 monsoon when onion prices had risen, Delhi was under President’s Rule and was governed by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

Terming price rise in onion as <g data-gr-id="47">a temporary phenomena</g>, Paswan said there is no shortage as such in the <g data-gr-id="48">country</g> but hoarders are trying to take advantage of the situation.

“There is a production shortfall of only five lakh tonne in the country. Hoarders get active when there is production fall. The state governments should take action against hoarders to control prices,” Paswan told reporters.

Wholesale onion price at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra, Asia’s biggest onion market, has increased to almost Rs 60 per kg, while retail onion prices have risen up to Rs 80 per kg in many parts of the country.

Asked as to why the BJP-ruled Maharashtra, the leading onion-growing state, not being able to control the prices, Paswan said the passage of GST would facilitate for easy movement of onions across the country, thereby improve supply and control prices.

Highlighting the measures taken to boost domestic onion supply, the minister said MMTC has floated a tender for import of 10,000 tonne of onion and the tender will be opened on August 27.

The minimum export price of onion has also been increased to $700 per tonne from $425 per tonne to restrict exports and the state government has been asked to impose stock holding limits on traders, he added.

The development minister Gopal Rai claimed that APMC Azadpur Mandi and Potatoes and Onion Merchant Association (POMA) have decided to sell onion at cheaper rates on <g data-gr-id="45"><g data-gr-id="59">no-profit</g> no-loss</g> basis in all the 70 Assembly constituencies. It was also informed that various departments have been directed to conduct surprise checks at retail shops. 
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