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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Onion prices worry Sheila Dikshit

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 01, 2013
First Published: 23:43 IST(1/2/2013) | Last Updated: 23:45 IST(1/2/2013)

The sharp rise in onion prices - nearly 58% in the past one month alone - has Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit worried, as onions have always been hot potato for governments in Delhi.

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In 1999, the BJP is said to have lost power in Delhi because it failed to control rise in onion prices.

But the farm ministry hopes that the prices of onions - a staple for most Indians - will drop to the usual levels once winter harvests kick in.

The ministry said that abnormal price hike was an effect of last year's patchy monsoon.

Dikshit urged agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to ban exports, but ministry officials said they would try out other basic measures first.

At an inter-ministerial meet, officials suggested setting of a minimum price below which traders won't be allowed to export onions, which would make Indian onions expensive for foreign buyers and cheaper at home.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, however, slammed the government, saying too much time was being lost in watching the situation.

Onion stocks usually bottom out during this time of the year, a seasonal phase when summer harvests are nearly exhausted and winter harvests not fully ready. But this year, there are signs of a major shortfall from last year's partial drought.

The National Council of Applied Economic Research has forecast a 20% dip in onion output for 2012-13.

If shortages worsen, the government could order imports, Pakistan being India's swiftest and cheapest option.


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