With onion and garlic prices touching new heights, the income tax (I-T) authorities on Friday conducted surveys on three commission agents at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi.
The surveys were part of the nationwide crackdown amid allegations of onion hoarding by wholesalers. Three teams, comprising around 22 officers, from the department's investigation wing in Mumbai began the surveys at 12.30pm to check onion hoarding. The surveys were on till late in the night.
On Friday, onions were sold for Rs 30-40 a kg in the wholesale market, and Rs 50 per kg in the retail market. The agents buy onions in bulk and supply them to wholesalers at 5% to 6% commission, said a senior I-T officer, requesting anonymity. “We wanted to check if the agents were jacking up prices by holding on to the onion stock.” The surveys were carried out following a directive by the Central Board of Direct Taxes to I-T offices across the country to check onion hoarding.
The officer said the I-T teams recorded statements of the agents and checked if they maintained account books. Godowns belonging to the agents were also surveyed. "We will submit a report on the findings of the surveys to our head office in New Delhi because this is a nationwide operation," the officer said. Besides APMC, similar surveys on onion commission agents and wholesalers were also conducted at Lasalgaon (in Nashik district), Nashik, Pune, Akola and Nagpur.
Such surveys were conducted in other states too. “The action would definitely help because a few hoarders, who are playing mischief, would be exposed,” the officer said, adding that this would also help in checking the onion prices in the coming days. APMC secretary Sharad Jhare denied knowledge of the surveys, while the traders in the market refused to speak to the media. —With inputs from G. Mohiuddin Jeddy