The Election Commission has given the Delhi Government permission to facilitate the sale of onions across the city at reasonable prices, said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday. With the rise in onion prices, the worried Congress Government had written to the Election Commission to permit them to revive market intervention to stabilise prices.

The Election Commission on Friday had given its nod. Accordingly, the Delhi Government has deployed 80 mobile vans which will increase to about 125 vans by Monday to sell onions at Rs.55 per kg. Each van will cater to at least four places so as to cover 300 places in this city. Ms. Dikshit also added that concerned officials have been directed to visit Alwar and Nashik mandis to ensure that traders supply adequate amount of onions to Delhi.

“Onion prices will see a fall in the next 2-3 days. We have taken a number of measures to provide relief to the people from high onion prices,” said Ms. Dikshit addressing a press conference along with her Cabinet Ministers Haroon Yusuf, Raj Kumar Chauhan and Arvinder Singh. “After weeks I ate onions today with ‘bhindi’ (lady finger),” she added.

Ms. Dikshit said arrival of onion in the city from various onion-producing States has improved following her meeting with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Food Minister K. V. Thomas on Thursday. She also added that there is no restriction on quantity of sale from the vans. Large number of counters has been opened outside Azadpur, Okhla, Ghazipur and Keshopur mandis as the government is sensitive. The enforcement and market intelligence wing have been kept on alert to overcome any attempt of hoarding, as no such incident has come to the notice, though it is on in other States affecting prices in Delhi.

Food and Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf said 1,600 tonnes of onion arrived in Delhi on Saturday from various onion producing States. “Arrival of onion was 1,400 tonnes on Friday. Today it has increased to 1,600 tonnes. Since the daily demand of onions is around 900 tonnes, we still have excess of 600 tonnes in stock,” he said.

The arrival from Rajasthan is picking up rapidly and it is expected that the price would soon stabilise, he said. “The last three days the arrival has increased substantially from Rajasthan. The arrival from Karnataka and other states has started. A team of officers has been deputed to Alwar to purchase the onions in bulk,” he added.

With the BJP Government defeated in 1998 due to high onion prices, the Delhi Ministers played down the contention that onion price could cost them politically.

Meanwhile, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel accused the Delhi Government for “inaction” despite soaring prices of onions and vegetables in the city.

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