Even as the Delhi government is selling onions at cheaper rates in mobile vans across the city to check the rising prices of the vegetable, residents allege they are unfit for consumption. The government increased the number of such vans to over 150 on Monday from 80 on Saturday.
Onions are still selling between Rs. 70 and Rs. 90 per kg in retail outlets in different parts of the Capital.
“The onions sold in the mobile vans are not fit for consumption. They look rotten and cannot be used in cooking. What is the point of selling them cheap if they can’t be bought? We are forced to buy from the retail market where they are sold for Rs. 75,” said Vinita Behl, a resident of Malviya Nagar.
Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Kailash Colony, said, “The prices in these vans may be less than what they ask for in the market, but the quality is so bad that it’s better to buy one good onion in retail than four bad ones from here.”
Senior officials rejected the claims. “It is absolutely untrue that the onions are of poor quality. They are the same quality as sold in the mandis. People are very happy with the onions especially since they are getting it at Rs. 50 per kilo,” said Haroon Yusuf, food and supplies minister.
Onion dealers and traders backed the minister’s claim and said the government had conducted a thorough recce.
“Delhi government officials have been doing a scan and checking our onion stocks. Each van has the capacity to accommodate about 4-5 tonnes of onions. If more than 150 vans sell across the city, it will be sufficient to meet basic requirements. The onions provided are coming in from Nasik and Alwar,” said Shrikant Misra, chief onion trader at Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC).
Anupam Joshi, a resident of Khirki Extension, said: “There are no specific timings when these mobile vans ply and those who have bought from them said that onions are of very poor quality. So we are not even bothering to try the vans out.”
Meanwhile, the BJP said it was better to pre-empt such a price rise. “If voted to power, I will set in place an infrastructure to monitor food prices constantly. Professionals would alert me whenever there is abnormal upward movement. I will take emergency steps even before the emergency occurs,” said Harsh Vardhan, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.