Mamata keen on addressing the issue in view of ensuing festive season

The Task Force formed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to keep in check the prices of essential commodities is set to meet on Monday to take stock of the rising prices of onion. The meeting will be chaired by Ms. Banerjee.

The decision to hold the meeting comes on the back of an interaction held with all departmental officials on Friday by Arup Roy, West Bengal Minster for Agriculture and Agricultural Marketing.

The Centre had written to the West Bengal government drawing its attention to the problem being faced in the country over dwindling supplies and rising prices of onion, to which most Indian dishes owe their flavour. Onion prices have become an election issue more than once.

Sources said the Mamata Banerjee government is keen to address the issue of rising onion prices in view of the ensuing festive season. Eid, Durga Puja and Diwali are all a few months away.

West Bengal produces only 25 per cent of the eight lakh tonnes of onion it consumes. Its supplies come mainly from Nashik, where hailstorm, excessive rainfall and railways rake problem have led to a shortage of stock. West Bengal also buys onion from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which together account for over 20 per cent of India’s onion crop.

Chairman of the Forum of Traders Organisation (West Bengal), Rabindranath Kolay, told The Hindu that onion prices were now averaging at Rs. 23 in the city. Prior to the emerging crisis, retail prices were around Rs 18 per kg.

Mr. Kolay, however, said that the meeting, will review the prices not only of onion but of all essential commodities. The forum, which has 11 members, was formed in 2012 by Ms. Banerjee to keep a check on the prices of essential commodities.