The Narendra Modi government will hold an emergency meet to devise strategy to tackle the onion crisis on Thursday. The meet will be chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Other senior ministers, who will be part of the high-level meet, include Nirmala Sitharaman, Ramvilas Paswan and Narendra Singh Tomar. The high-level meet comes a day after Union Finance Minister told the Lok Sabha that the government has undertaken several measures to curb the shocking rise of onion prices. However, it was Sitharaman’s’ ‘I don’t eat onions’ remark that went viral. At a time when the major markets in India are selling onions from Rs 100 to Rs 150 per kilogram, the government is seen on backfoot to resolve the crisis.
During the Lok Sabha debate, Sitharaman attributed shortage of onions to low production. "One is we don't have scientifically advanced methods of storing...So that is one of the things, so we need to have greater scientific storage facility for onions we have started working on it...then also to give better storage capacities within that region particularly around Lasalgaon," she said. The minister also said that due to implementation of direct benefit transfer scheme, the government has been able to save Rs 1.41 lakh crore in the last five years by plugging loopholes.
On November 16, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had announced that the government will import 1,00,000 tonnes of onions through state-run MMTC, which has already floated a tender for buying 4,000 tonnes of the commodity from the global market.
The move comes after the government's various efforts to boost the domestic availability failed to cool down the retail prices significantly. Retail prices of onions are continuing to rule above Rs 60/kg in the national capital and other consuming centres.
Last month, the retail price of tomatoes shot up to Rs 80 per kilogram in the national capital due to supply disruption caused by heavy rains in key growing states, including Karnataka. The retail price of tomatoes in other metropolitan cities was also ruling high. Tomato was quoted at Rs 60 per kg in Kolkata, Rs 54 per kg in Mumbai and Rs 40 per kg in Chennai, as per the government data.