Blaming a variety of reasons for the present rise in prices of onion from prolonged monsoon, Phailin cyclone to destruction of onion crop in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, hoarding by traders in States and the Capital not being an agricultural State, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday said that the onion prices have peaked and started declining. She also made a fervent appeal to other political parties to not politicise the issue.
The Chief Minister called the media over to her residence in the afternoon and noted that she was “disturbed and worried” at the fluctuating and shooting onion prices. “Delhi is not an agricultural State. So the price is not dependent on us but on what happens in the crop producing States,” she said, adding that rains were also to be blamed. “The Odisha cyclone impacted the crops and their transportation and these gaps led to shortages,” she said.
Though onion prices had also shot up ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections in 1998, Ms. Dikshit said there was no comparison between the two times as Rs.100 then is equivalent to Rs. 400 to Rs.500 now.
Ms. Dikshit said her Government has sent out inspectors to all wholesale markets to prevent hoarding. “In Delhi the hoarding is very little; most of it takes place in Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra,” she said, calling upon wholesalers to contribute to price stability. The Chief Minister said the wholesalers have also been told to procure more onions so that their prices go down. “Besides, onion is selling at Rs.55-65 per kg in the Mother Dairy and Safal outlets.”
Delhi Food & Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf said market intelligence has been developed to prevent any hoarding at the wholesale markets. The Chief Minister will meet Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday to discuss the issue.
Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee chairman Rajender Sharma said the onion prices had dropped in the wholesale market by around Rs.5 during the day and it would reflect in the retail markets on Thursday.
“The requirement of onion in the four wholesale markets of Delhi at Azadpur, Keshapur, Ghazipur and Okhla was around 1,600-1,700 tonnes per day but the arrivals were around 900 tonnes or about 60 per cent.” The shortage, he said, has increased to about 40 per cent from 35 per cent last month and 33 per cent the month before that.
Mr. Sharma said on Tuesday onion sold at Rs.37.5-Rs.60 per kg and the rate was the same this morning. However, in the afternoon it dropped to Rs.35-Rs.58 per kg. “There has been a fall and it will reflect tomorrow,” he said.
Mr. Sharma also maintained that the onion prices have not touched Rs.100 mark but admitted that the best quality one was selling for Rs.80-Rs.90.
He said the traders bodies, which had started selling onions at reasonable rates about 45 days ago but had stopped doing so when the price fell, have again resumed sale of onions through 50 vehicles at 200 to 250 points across the city. “We are selling at Rs.53, Rs.55 and Rs.60 depending on the quality,” Mr. Sharma said, adding that more vehicles would be added on Thursday.