New Delhi: The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said yesterday the Government is making all efforts to ensure that prices of onions are moderated across the nation. Addressing media on various issues including efforts being made by the Government to provide clean drinking water to the citizens of the country, Paswan said that prices of onions are a cause of concern to the Union Government and the situation is being closely monitored by a team of 5 Union Ministers chaired by the Home Minister which has already held one meeting and will hold another one soon.
The Cabinet Secretary and a Committee of Secretaries is also keeping an eye on the situation and suitable policy interventions are being undertaken based on the deliberations, Paswan said.
The Consumer Affairs Minister stressed on the fact that there is a 26% decline in domestic production due to a delayed monsoon initially which delayed sowing, followed by untimely rains and cyclones. and that the buffer stock of 57,000 tons of onions with the Government has been liquidated creating a need to import more.
Talking about the import of onions, Paswan said that the season for onion cultivation is mostly over across the world except for Turkey and Holland, and the Government is making all efforts to get stocks from these countries and Egypt as early as possible for distribution among States and Cooperatives. Indian Missions in these countries are also trying to facilitate the movement of stock from these countries, he added.
The Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, also chaired yesterday an Inter-Ministerial meeting to monitor the price and availability of onions across the nation. The following key decisions were taken:
(i) A letter has been written by the Consumer Affairs Secretary to Chief Secretaries of all States asking them to suitably reduce the stock limits further in their States as per the availability and prices. They have also been exhorted to enforce these stock limits strictly and send a weekly report on action taken.
(ii) Time Period for Domestic Stock holding limit on retailers and wholesalers are being further extended until further orders.
(iii) MMTC informed that the first shipment of onions from Egypt shall arrive in the second week of December and the second shipment thereafter.
(iv) MMTC has floated a country specific tender for import of onions
(v) MMTC to work out modalities of transportation of sealed container of onions from Mumbai port directly to FHEL facility at Rai, Sonipat with curing, customs clearance, etc.
(vi) Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DACFW) (Horticulture Division) in consultation with National Horticulture Board to provide an assessment about shelf-life in cold storage facility of imported onions from Egypt. MMTC opined that onions from Turkey or Holland may be stored for relatively longer periods as compared to those from Egypt given the respective climatic conditions.
(vii) DACFW (Horticulture Division) also informed that they are organizing a video conference with States & Union Territories tfor an assessment of Kharif onion arrivals.
The Centre also announced yesterday that it has ordered 6,090 MT of onions from Egypt, which will arrive early December and be distributed at an ex-Mumbai price of Rs 52/kg, and ex-Delhi price of Rs 60/kg.
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