States do not want the onions for, govt worried about waste, they asked
New Delhi: India’s states, which had asked the central government to import onions because of the paucity of national stocks and rising costs, have withdrawn either partially or completely from their devotion.
The reason behind the states’ drawback is that the delay in the arrival of imported onions, and the ready availability of cheaper local types.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs estimates that until 3 January, from the total 6,812 metric tonnes (MT) of imported onions which have arrived in India, states have picked up only 1,015 MT, while the remainder lie in warehouses leased by the government at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT).
The value of the rest of the onions is about Rs 27 crore, given that the initial tender rate to import onion from Egypt was $654 per MT.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that major states that have withdrawn from their demands are Maharashtra, Assam, Haryana, Karnataka and Odisha, that haven’t picked up any onions. They had originally demanded 10,000 MT, 3,000 MT, 3,480 MT, 250 MT and 100 MT, respectively.
Higher prices a factor
A senior ministry official said the higher costs of the imported onions are certainly proving to be a problem.
‘These states have cited higher prices of the imported onions, which vary from Rs 49-58/kg, since they include an added transportation price,’ a senior ministry official said.
The official added that states have stated the imported onions are far too expensive in comparison to the onion prices in the domestic market, today that late kharif and early rabi onions have already started arriving.
Another ministry official said that local mandis for example Lasalgaon in Maharashtra and Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh are selling blossoms for retail prices of Rs 30-40/ kg.
‘This makes it hard for us to sell the imported onions to these states at higher costs, with an additional burden of difference in size and flavor of imported onions,’ the second official said.
Paswan said at the press conference that there was a delay in the import process, and up to now, only 6,812 MT of the 1.2 lakh MT initially sanctioned had reached the country.
The import process has been finalised for 41,950 MT, out of which a tender for 5,000 MT was cancelled last week, bringing the total import order down to 36,950 MT.
‘Earlier, demand from the nations for the imported onion stood around 33,139 MT, which has been reduced to 14,309 MT following the vast majority of the states have withdrawn citing pricing issues related to imported onions,’ said Avinash K. Srivastava, consumer affairs secretary.
Srivastava added that today the government has offered states the additional incentive of covering the cost of transport, so that they can pick up the onions in accordance with their earlier commitments.