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Price control measures unveiled
Published on 14 Jan. 2011 12:49 AM IST
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Worried over the frequent “unacceptable” rise in food prices, the government Thursday unveiled a slew of anti-inflation steps, including sale of onions through government agencies, utilising state-run companies to source food items and stringent action against hoarders.
“Prices of most manufactured goods and services have been reasonably stable, food prices have frequently risen at unacceptable rates,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.
“The current bout of inflation is driven by a rise in prices of vegetables and fruits which is more difficult to manage because these commodities are not held in public stocks,” it added.
The government has been on the backfoot after opposition parties raked up the issue of price rise in rallies across the country. India’s food inflation has soared to over 18 percent, led by onions which are selling in most parts of the country at Rs.55-60 per kg.
Among some of the measures that the PMO suggested Thursday are sale of Rs.35 per kg by state-run National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and the apex federation of consumer cooperatives, NCCF, through their retail outlets.
“The arrival of onions from Pakistan will also help cool prices. Import of 1,000 tonnes of onion has already been contracted. Export of onions stands banned,” said the PMO. The government will also review import and export of all essential commodities to ensure supplies in the domestic market.
It also warned of severe action against black marketers and hoarders of food items.
“Cartelisation by large traders will be strictly dealt with. Government will take stringent action against hoarders and black marketers manipulating market prices,” said the statement.
Onions at Rs.5 per kg soon? Traders say so
Onions may sell for as low as Rs.5 per kg fom next week with the market set to be flooded with a new harvest, the Azadpur wholesale vegetable traders association here said Thursday.
‘The new harvest begins after Lohri, so the wholesale market will be flooded with a huge amount of onions, due to which retailers can sell onions at Rs.5-10 per kg to buyers,’ Ranjan Sharma, general secretary of the chamber of Azadpur fruit and vegetable traders, told IANS.
Prices of the humble onion had touched Rs.100 in some parts of India in the past month. ‘Today we have sold around 400 tonnes to retailers. The onion price today is hovering between Rs.20-40 per kg,’ said Sharma.
He said the price varied depending on the vegetable size, with the onions generally used in households being sold at Rs.30-35 per kg.
Wholesale onion traders were on strike for two days to protest raids by the income tax authorities to prevent hoarding, but they called it off Wednesday. ‘The price is likely to go down in the next two to three days, as supply will increase daily. Today we had less stock due to two days’ strike,’ he claimed.
On Wednesday, the traders had also met Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and called off their strike, which had began Tuesday afternoon, on the assurance that their premises would not be raided by the authorities.
‘She asked us to procure as many onions as possible and sell them at reasonable rates to ease some pressure on prices. The situation is expected to come under control within a week,’ Sharma added. Onion prices shot up across the country after crops in Nashik in Maharashtra were spoilt due to untimely heavy rains.
The IT department last week conducted similar search operations in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and few other states.

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