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Govt's MMTC to import substantial quantity of onions to check price rise

twitter-logoPTI | November 8, 2019 | Updated 18:24 IST

New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) To keep a lid on rising retail prices of onion which have skyrocketed up to Rs 100 per kg, the Centre on Friday decided to import "substantial" quantity of the key kitchen staple from Dubai and other countries to augment the domestic availability. State-run trading agency MMTC has issued a tender in this regard, it said. This is the second tender the agency has floated. It had not received response from the bidders for the first tender issued for import of 2,000 tonnes. A decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava was present. Onion prices have risen sharply for more than a month due to tight supply. The retail prices have increased up to Rs 100 per kg in the national capital and ruling in the range of Rs 60-80 per kg in other parts of the country, as per the trade data. "MMTC has been requested to immediately import a substantial amount of onions from Dubai and other countries to augment domestic supplies. A tender for the same has been issued," the consumer affairs ministry said in a statement. An approval has been granted to reduce the mandatory time for tendering as there is an immediate and prompt requirement domestically, it said. A team comprising officials from MMTC, cooperative NAFED as well as agriculture and consumer affairs ministries has been directed to visit Turkey and Egypt on an urgent basis to take stock of the supplies of onions in these countries and facilitate imports to India, it added. Meanwhile, the government is also trying to facilitate import of onion through private traders from Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, for which phytosanitary and fumigation norms have been liberalised till November 30. In a statement, the consumer affairs ministry said the NAFED has been directed to speed up its domestic procurement process especially from Alwar in Rajasthan and supply to states that have already indicated their demand. So far, a total of 300 tonnes of onions per day have been demanded which will be progressively increased as per the increased demands of state governments, it said. NAFED has also been asked to provide maximum quantity so as to ensure a healthy supply to onion-deficient states. The cooperative body is being facilitated to procure the same. That apart, the Delhi and Rajasthan governments have been directed to keep their mandis open from November 9-12 so as to prevent any disruption in supplies. They have also been asked to provide appropriate publicity for the same. "The government is constantly in touch with state governments to ensure that their demands are being catered to," the ministry said. The Centre is holding consultations with state governments through video conference to assess demands and requirements along with supply position. Based on their demands, NAFED has been asked to procure and supply. Another video conference was held on Friday along with agriculture/horticulture departments of state governments to further take stock of the situation, it said. The government said strict and appropriate action will be taken against traders in Delhi, Maharashtra and Rajasthan who are trying to manipulate the prices. The Department of Consumer Affairs is constantly and closely monitoring the availability and prices of onions across the country, it added. Onion prices have risen due to 30-40 per cent fall in the domestic production of kharif (summer) onion owing to heavy rains in the main growing states of Maharasthra and Karnataka. PTI LUX HRS

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