Men and women holding voter, Aadhaar or any other ID card wait in long queues amid tight security and CCTV surveillance at farmer markets in Hyderabad — get a finger marked with ink after transacting their business and move out happy.
This elaborate, high-security arrangement has been made for the humble onion.
The Telangana government sells onion at a cut-price rate of Rs 20 a kg at rythu or farmer bazaars to provide relief to the people as the kitchen staple was selling at about Rs 80 a kilo in several places.
To control spiraling prices, both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments this month initiated the subsidised sale at farmer markets where each buyer is required to show a government ID proof and get a finger marked with ink so that nobody takes home more than the quota of 2 kg reserved for each person.
The security measures became necessary following complaints that small-time traders and restaurateurs were taking away the “welfare” onions in bulk, leading to quarrels and even stone-pelting incidents.
In Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress government is selling onions at Rs 50 a kilo from stalls run by the administration. But it has put a ceiling of 500 grams for each buyer.
In the retail market, the vegetable touched Rs 80 a kilo on Monday.
The politically-sensitive mainstay of Indian food is giving jitters in poll-bound Bihar, where the commodity is retailing at Rs 60 a kg.
Wholesaler Suresh Kumar Kewat at Gulzarbagh Mandi in Patna said prices could reach Rs 90 very soon this Sawan when vegetable rates shoot up as non-vegetarian food is a taboo during this season.
Heavy rains and floods damaged the state’s crops while the harvest in onion-producing states such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh was down too because of weather factors.
In Mumbai, revenue and agriculture minister Eknath Khadse said the government would start distribution or sale of onions through the public distribution system, if needed.
Farmers have started offloading their produce fearing government action for hoarding the crop after traders accused them of not selling their harvest at lower rates
In Assam, the opposition has asked the Congress government to import onions from Myanmar via Manipur to tide over the crisis. In Indo-Myanmar border areas, onion was sold at Rs 10 a kilo.
(With inputs from HT Correspondents from Hyderabad, Kolkata, Patna, Mumbai and Guwahati)