As onion prices continue to rule high at above Rs 100/kg in most cities, Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday reviewed progress made in the import of key kitchen staple to boost domestic supplies and check spiralling prices. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar were among the ministers who attended the meeting. Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan missed the meeting. Officials cited health reasons behind Paswan's absence from the meeting.
Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba, Advisor to Prime Minister P K Sinha and Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash Srivastava were also present in the meeting, the officials added. The home minister reviewed the progress made in the decisions taken in the last meeting with respect to facilitating speedy import of onion that would help improve availability and cool prices.
The consumer affairs secretary, who made a presentation on the onion price situation in the meeting, informed that state-run MMTC has contracted import of over 21,000 tonnes of onion from Egypt and Turkey and the shipments are expected to arrive by mid-January.
The secretary said that tendering and fumigation norms have been eased to facilitate early arrival of the imported onions. MMTC has been directed to issue two country specifics tenders and one global tender for 5,000 tonnes each, the sources said.
He also apprised that stock holding limits on retailers and wholesalers have been reduced further to 5 tonnes and 25 tonnes, respectively, to check hoarding. Already, onion exports have been banned and supplies are being improved through buffer stock as well, the sources added.
Onion prices have been ruling high for past few weeks due to fall in production of the Kharif production due to unseasonal rainfall in the key growing states, including Maharashtra. During a debate on the issue on Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala SitharmanÂ Union told the Lok Sabha that she belongs to a family "that has little to do with onions".
"Main itna lehsun, pyaaz nahi khati hoon ji. Main aise pariwar se aati hoon jaha onion, pyaaz se matlab nahi rakhte (I do not eat onions and garlic much. I come from a family where we have little to do with onions)," Sitharaman said in response to a question posed by NCP leader Supriya Sule.
The Opposition Congress likened her remarks with that ofÂ Marie Antoinette, the last French queen before the great revolution.Â Antoinette had infamously said that if the peasants don't have bread, they should eat cakes. "Our own Marie Antoinette," Congress leader Karti Chidambaram wrote on Twitter.