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Have never tasted onion: After Nirmala Sitharaman, it is Union Minister Ashwini Choubey

Have never tasted onion: After Nirmala Sitharaman, it is Union Minister Ashwini Choubey

New Delhi: A day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Parliament that she does not eat much of onion, another Union minister on Thursday seemed to be unconcerned with the rising prices of the vegetable that has crossed Rs 150/kg mark in some cities.

"I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So, how will a person like me know about the situation (market prices) of onions," Ashwini Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, told reporters outside Parliament.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sitharaman, while referring to the talk around rising onion prices in the country, said that she does not consume much of onion-garlic herself, adding that she comes from a family which did not have to do much with the vegetable.

"I don't eat much of onion-garlic, so don't worry. I come from such a family which doesn't have much to do with onion," Sitharaman said while responding to interruptions by some opposition members at a time when she was speaking on the onion crisis.

However, she also addressed the crisis over rising onion prices in the country and said that the government was taking several measures to address this issue, including a ban on exports, supplying the produce from the surplus to deficit areas of the country, sorting out the structural issues regarding onion storage, and eliminating 'middlemen' in onion trade through the direct benefit transfer scheme.

Currently, onion is being sold at Rs 100 per kg in most of the Indian cities.

Onions were being sold in Kolkata at Rs 140 per kg on Wednesday. The vegetable has been selling for Rs 80-100 per kg in retail markets in Delhi-NCR.

The price has touched Rs 150 per kg in Hyderabad.

The opposition parties on Thursday also staged a protest over the rising onion prices in the Parliament premises.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Zafar Islam told Zee News that the prices of onions would come down to Rs 25-30 within two weeks.

Earlier on Tuesday, the government revised the permissible stock limits for the commodity with immediate effect.

Now wholesalers and retailers can keep onions up to 25MT and 5MT respectively, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan announced on Twitter.

The importers of onions are exempted from the stock limits, he said. The minister said the decision was taken in order to augment the availability of onion in the open market.

Paswan had last week said that the government was unable to bring down the prices as it was not in its hands.

Responding to a question on when the onion prices would come down, Paswan said "it's not in our hands." However, he had added that the government is taking every step possible to contain the price rise.

The government has announced that will import 11,000 Metric Tons (MT) of onion from Turkey in addition to 6,090 MT from Egypt. The supply from Egypt will arrive in India in the second week of December while consignment from Turkey will reach the Indian shores in January 2020.

Last month, the Union Cabinet had approved importing 1.2 lakh tonnes of onion to improve the domestic supply. Exports have already banned and a limit has been imposed on stock-holding for wholesalers and retailers for an indefinite period.

(With inputs from DNA)

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