Crashing prices of onions in Madhya Pradesh and now, dumping of rotting onions near village Kithore in Shajapur district have become a double whammy for farmers and residents who blame state cooperative officials for not disposing the vegetables properly.
Residents allege hundreds have fallen sick after officials of Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (MARKFED) have collected rotting onions from Saranpur wholesale market and dumped it outside the village with a population of around 2000, situated about 30 kilometres from district headquarters.
With 1,11,000 hectares of area under onion cultivation in MP, farmers had to throw away their produce as prices nosedived to Rs 0.20/kg. After chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced procurement of onion at Rs 6/kg on June 1, 10.4 lakh quintals of onion were procured across the state by June 30.
“Few days back, MARKFED officials, who are responsible for proper disposal of onions, have dumped 15,000 quintals of rotten onion in an open field on August 11, assuring villagers that it would be disposed of in a couple of days. The officials should have dug a pit and put the onions inside it along with limestone and sand for proper disposal. But this was not done,” said Pintu Jaiswal, president of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Gulana Gram unit.
Tensingh Rajput, one of the farmers from the village alleged that over 250 villagers have fallen ill. “We had asked officials to either cover rotten onions with plastic sheets or apply chemicals to the heap of onions but to no avail. The onions are not only polluting the air but are also contaminating water resources,” he said.
BM Sharma, managing director, MARKFED said, “The issue of rotting onions is not restricted to one village. Around 10 to 15 percent of onions procured from farmers at a support price have rotten due to rains and resultant humidity. Segregation of rotten onion is on and we are disposing it off but our officers are not supposed to dump them anywhere. If the report is true, we’ll consult the issue with the district collector and dispose of onions properly.”