Business Today

Worried over food inflation, PM to convene meeting

PM's meeting is expected to be attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Planning Commission Dy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Sharad Pawar.

twitter-logoPTI | January 11, 2011 | Updated 08:17 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting on Tuesday on high food prices even as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the government has no control over high vegetable prices.

Onion remained expensive at Rs 55-60 per kg in retail markets across the country. Prices could have gone up further but for the calling-off a two-day strike by traders in Nashik, the major producing area, within hours.

The meeting called by the Prime Minister is expected to be attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, besides Pawar.

"...vegetable prices are high and on that we do not have any control," Pawar said, adding that prices will come down "eventually".

He said supply has started improving with fresh arrivals from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra.

Pawar comments come within days of senior ministers expressing difficulties in containing the price rise, particularly of food items.

Food inflation, fuelled by high prices of vegetables, milk, egg and meat, has crossed 18 per cent.

The onion shortage could not be made up by arrival of new crop in mandis.

Nashik strike would have worsened the situation as traders were protesting against income tax (I-T)raids, stating that they were being forced to sell onion not above Rs 30 per kg.

"The two-day strike of onion traders in Nashik, which began on Monday, has been called -off," Nashik District Onion Traders Association's President Sohanlal Bhandari said, adding that the authorities have given them assurance that their grievances would be looked into.

Meanwhile, I-T raids continued on traders in Delhi and NCR region.

Efforts to convince Pakistan to allow Wagah border land route land for onion exports to India did not yield results.

However, Amritsar traders who had stopped consignments of tomato and other vegetable consignments to Pakistan, allowed trucks to move across the border.

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