Bhubaneswar, Aug. 12: The government today decided to sell onions at Rs 49 a kg from fair price shops in a bid to ease the burden on people.
As onions were sold for Rs 55 a kg today and a further rise in prices was expected, the food civil supplies and consumer welfare department decided to open 45 counters at fair price shops in the city and 30 in Cuttack to provide people the tuber at Rs 49 a kg. However, one consumer will be allowed only a kilo at a time.
Onion prices went up from Rs 26 a kg in the last week of June to Rs 55 a kg today in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. This has upset the budget of the middle class.
The rising prices of the crop might also cause political heat with the BJD likely to raise it in the coming civic polls blaming the Congress-led UPA for the increase.
“When I think about onions these days, it brings tears to my eyes, literally. The state government should do something to control the price at the daily markets as well. Supplying onions at a limited number of fair price shops will not suffice,” said Jasaswini Mohapatra, a homemaker from Satabdi Nagar Phase II.
“We have opened five Maitri shops to sell onions in city at affordable prices. However, the steep upward trend of the prices has prompted us to open onion counters at 45 fair price stores across the city. These counters will operate from Tuesday. One customer will get one kg of onion at a time for Rs 49 per kg,” said secretary, food, civil supplies and consumer welfare department, Madhusudan Padhi.
Padhi also said there would be 30 such counters in Cuttack city. He hinted at a government proposal to increase these counters in the twin cities if the prices rise further.
He blamed crop losses in Maharashtra for the short supply of the vegetable.
In the heartland of onion, Nashik, onion was at present selling at Rs 46 to Rs 47 a kg, Padhi said. Once the newly harvested crop from Karnakata arrived in local markets nearly after a month in the state, the onion prices might come down, he added.
Traders at Unit-I Daily Market, however, disagree. They blamed the unplanned export policy of the tuber by the Centre as the reason behind its short supply.
President of Unit-I Daily Market Traders’ Association Gayadhar Swain told The Telegraph: “We procure onions from four locations — Nashik in Maharashtra, which supplies the crop for nearly eight months, then Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, from where supply lasts for nearly three months, and Kantabanjhi in Odisha, which supplies onions for nearly one month to the local markets. But this year, in Nasik there is a scarcity of onion due to increased exports to foreign countries. The remaining stocks are therefore coming with a higher price tag.”
BJD general secretary (youth wing) Bijay Nayak said: “Onion prices are increasing every day due to a faulty decision of the Centre. We are going to make it a poll issue during the coming civic polls, which has already been notified across the state today.”
In Cuttack, too, people are also suffering due to the rise in onion prices.
Tuna Das, a resident of Jobra, said: “Both the state government and the Centre must take judicious steps to solve the problem of short supply of onions. It may create a political crisis. The BJP-led Madanlal Khurana government in Delhi fell due to rise in onion prices.”
Dillip Sahu, a vegetable trader from Cantonment Road in Cuttack, said: “The price may go up in near future as the supply from Maharashtra has fallen. The state government should open more fair price shops to help the people.”