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States shun imported onions, Centre worries stock may rot

States shun imported onions, Centre worries stock may rot

New Delhi: Forced to import onions to check spike in prices, the Union government now fears that the key kitchen staple may rot in godowns as states have shown little interest in buying them despite its offer to bear transportation cost.

Consumer Affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre is offering onions to states at Rs 55 per kg landed cost and is ready to bear the cost of transporting the commodity.

While the Centre alone can import onions, it depends on states for retailing them to consumers.

Retail onion prices started to rise by September-end and touched a high of Rs 170 per kg in December, forcing the Union government to import onions from countries like Turkey and Egypt. In subsequent weeks, rates started to soften with the arrival of new Kharif crop in the market.

"So far, we have contracted (import of) 36,000 tonnes of onion. Of which, 18,500 tonnes of shipment has reached India, but states have taken only 2,000 tonne that too after much persuasion. We are worried about its disposal because it is a perishable commodity," Paswan told reporters.

"Tomorrow, someone should not go to court and say imported onions were rotting," he said.

He said the Centre is offering imported onions at an average cost of Rs 55 per kg and also bearing the entire transportation cost. Despite all, the state governments are not coming forward to buy them.

With agency inputs

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