As onion becomes a political hot potato ahead of Assembly polls, the Delhi Government is making frantic bid to secure supplies from Maharashtra. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, on the other hand, reiterated that the shortage was temporary and prices would come down in the next 2-3 weeks.

“The situation is serious and we are trying to stabilise prices,” said Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, after meeting Pawar and Food Minister K.V. Thomas on Thursday. Delhi has sent a team of officials to Maharashtra to negotiate prices and secure supplies.

Dikshit said onion arrivals in Delhi on Thursday stood at 800 tonnes and that should help ease prices a bit. The modal price or rate at which most trades took place in wholesale markets stood at Rs 5,175 a quintal in the National Capital, while at retail outlets, it ranged at Rs 70-90 a kg. According to data from the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, the average wholesale prices moved up marginally by over Rs 100 a quintal in key markets such as Delhi, Bangalore, Indore, Pimpalgaon and Pune, among others, on Thursday. Further, Dikshit said that she would soon write to the Election Commission seeking permission to re-commence the sale of onions at subsidised rates in Delhi. “Traders and hoarders are taking advantage of the situation. Nafed has been asked to improve supplies on a no-profit, no-loss basis,” Dikshit said.

Pawar said onion production was unlikely to drop despite rains affecting the crop in Maharashtra and Karnataka and that the acreage was higher than last year. Onion prices are expected to drop in the next 2-3 weeks with increase in arrivals from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan, he said.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma also said that there was no scarcity of onions and prices were expected to stabilise in the coming few weeks. He also said that States should check hoarding.

>vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

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