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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Onion prices soar, state govt sees no role in price control

HT Correspondents , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh/Amritsar/Patiala, October 24, 2013
First Published: 22:40 IST(24/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:23 IST(25/10/2013)

The soaring prices of onion have badly affected common households as the retail price of the essential commodity hovered around Rs. 80 to 100 a kilogram on Thursday.

With the festival season already on, the prices are expected to go up further.

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Harvinder Kaur, a housewife from Amritsar, said, "The skyrocketing prices have put the vegetable beyond the reach of the common man, who is slamming the price rise that has forced him to compromise with taste."

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/onions_compressed.jpg

Prices are expected to fall only after Diwali when a fresh crop is expected to arrive from Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

As Punjab gets onion from other states and occasionally from Pakistan, the state government sees no role in controlling the prices. "We can only check hoarding of the essential commodities, but there are no reports as I think this is the time to release all stocks," said Punjab food and civil supplies secretary DS Grewal.

Putting onus on the Centre, Grewal said the Centre had to open exports which could control the prices. Once onion started coming from Pakistan via the Wagah border, Punjab would benefit the most, he added.

Rita Rani, a housewife in Patiala, said she had to cut her usual supply of onion by half. "Until the prices drop, I will continue with this," Rani told HT.

Interestingly, on sale of all vegetables, including onion, the Punjab State Agriculture Marketing Board (Mandi Board) charges local taxes -- 2% to 4% rural development fund and 2% market fee. The state has no plans to cut these taxes.

Punjab Mandi Board vice-chairman Ravinder Singh Cheema said, "The Punjab government intended to sell onion grown in the state at controlled prices, but the market is so volatile that in case the prices of onion coming from outside fall, no one would buy onion from within the state, so we dropped the idea."

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