Highway blockade over onion price
A student union, a local organisation and residents of Doomdooma town on Thursday blocked National Highway 52 at Kakopathar Chariali in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam to protest against the rising prices of onions across the state.
Members of the All Assam Chutia Students’ Union, All Chutia Jati Sanmilan and the other protesters stood with garlands made of onions which they planned to offer to the picture of Assam food and civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury, placed in the middle of the highway.
Satyabrata Chutia, secretary of the student union, told The Telegraph, “Onion was sold for Rs 20 per kg in July which rose to Rs 30 per kg in early August and Rs 40-Rs 45 kg by the end of August. Now, it has gone up to Rs 60 to Rs 70 per kg. Assam needs about 4.5 lakh metric tonnes of onion annually. Last year, according to data, farmers in the state produced 12 to 15 tonnes of onions per hectare against the nationwide average of 20 to 25 tonnes per hectare. We urge the state government to control the onion price at the earliest.”
Onions prices have skyrocketed in past month because of short supply from flood-hit onion-growing states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Onions now cost the most in many parts of the state and eastern Arunachal Pradesh.
The wholesale price of onion at the vegetable markets in Tinsukia, Namsai and Roing on Thursday was Rs 55-Rs 60 per kg. The retail price ranges between Rs 65 and Rs 70 per kg.
The sudden price rise has hit homemakers hard. “With the prices of onions rising, our budget has taken a hit,” Geeta Goswami, a resident at Kakopathar, said.
“Fresh stocks will come after Diwali. The situation will become normal in the next couple of months,” a wholesale trader in Tinsukia said.
“Hoarding of onions is adding to the problem,” another wholesaler said.
Union food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday warned the hoarders and black marketers that strict action will be taken against them as onion prices have gone up across the country.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also directed the food and civil supplies department to take immediate effective steps for controlling the skyrocketing prices of onion and other essential commodities.
All Assam Motak Students’ Union and many other organisations have warned the government that they will launch a massive protest against onion price hike if it is not brought under control.