As onion prices in the capital spiralled beyond the reach of the common man, the Delhi government and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) blamed each other over the tear-inducing rates.
On Tuesday, the Delhi government had declared that it would sell onions at Rs 40 per kg at mobile locations across the city, till the prices of the vegetable stabilised in the open market.
NAFED claimed that had the Delhi government responded to the three letters sent to it on the issue, prices of the essential vegetable would have remained under control.
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In its letters, NAFED had urged the government to nominate its official for a committee which would decide the price of procuring onions, according to their quality and quantity.
“NAFED would deliver the stocks to the government at the given destination on the cost price. Or the price as decided by the DAC (department of agriculture) against receipt of advance payment,” read the first communication by NAFED to the Delhi government.
Bijender Singh, director of NAFED, claimed that had the Delhi government listened to the federation, it would not be forced to sell onions at a cheaper price. “We had given them a price of Rs 25, including cost of transportation. They never came to us,” said Singh.
The Delhi government, meanwhile, issued a statement asking whether NAFED supports the “misleading” statement on prices of onions given by a political nominee on its board of directors.
“It was reported in a section of media that NAFED initiated the process of dispatching onions to the Delhi market on July 28. Later, NAFED itself clarified that on instructions from the Central government, it would supply onions procured under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) to eight major cities in the country, which surprisingly did not include Delhi. This decision as reported in the media was taken by the Central government and was communicated to NAFED on August 1,” claimed the government in a statement.
The government alleged that NAFED — which had asked the Delhi government, in a letter sent on July 24, to make an advance payment in case it wanted to buy onions — refused to take responsibility for poor quality of onions or losses incurred in storage. “NAFED had informed the Delhi government that arrangement for transportation of onions from the storage points at Nasik to the desired destinations shall be made available by the state governments. NAFED shall not be responsible for any deterioration in quality and storage loss. Delhi government has already procured good quality onions from Nasik through Small Farmers Agri Business Consortium (SFAC) — which is a society sponsored by Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India.
Delhi government would like to know from NAFED whether it is ready to sell good- quality onions to any state at a rate different from any other central government mandated procurement agency. If that is the case, Delhi government asks NAFED to make public the reasonable price at which it is willing to sell good quality onions at Delhi (and not Nasik) so that the stock can be easily procured by the government of Delhi,” said a government statement.