The district administration is yet to begin operations against traders and merchants for hoarding onions and potatoes despite the Centre bringing the two vegetables under the Essential Commodities Act.

Last week, the Centre, following advice from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, brought onion and potato within the preview of stockholding limits. This was after prices of onion and potatoes began skyrocketing. Retail markets in the city are selling both between Rs 32 and Rs 40 a kg.

District Collector C.A. Latha told The Hindu on Monday that the district administration had got no communication so far from the State government in this regard. “For that reason, we have not carried out any surprise checks. Possibly, we may have to seek alternative steps to check prices,” she said.

The onus of carrying out the crackdown on hoarding is on the State government. Subsequently, the Department of Civil Supplies in each district has to adopt measures against hoarding.

Retail outlets in the city have been selling onions and potatoes without any ceiling. Onions command a price above Rs 32 a kg while potatoes, anywhere between Rs 32 and 40 a kg. Green grocers sell both the vegetables at prices depending on the wholesale market while local department stores, hyper markets and multi- brands have fixed their own prices depending on the availability.

Official sources said that the State government is required to impose stock holding limits. The rule could be made applicable for the entire year. The soaring prices of vegetables have been attributed to various reasons including hoarding due to speculation that a weak monsoon would affect the kharif crop in other States.

Many believe that traders are creating an artificial scarcity on onion and potatoes during the month of Ramzan. The consumption of these vegetables had grown following the rise in population of migrant workers. Onions and potatoes have been chiefly used by the labourers from the north, Ms. Latha admits.

Consumers believe that the prices would shoot up unless the district administration initiates action against hoarders. The stockholding limit ensures that traders cannot stock more than a prescribed quantum.

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