Mindful of possible impact of rocketing onion prices on assembly polls which are just six weeks away, a worried Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today asked the Centre to take immediate measure to rein in the rates and sought Election Commission's permission for sale of the bulb at a reasonable price.
Dikshit, eyeing an unprecedented fourth victory in the December 4 polls, met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Food Minister K V Thomas and requested them to improve supply of the kitchen staple to Delhi.
"The situation is very serious. We are trying to stabilise the prices," she said.
The Chief Minister specifically requested Pawar to direct National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) to make available adequate quantity of onions for Delhi on no-profit no-loss basis so that its price, which is hovering around Rs 100 a kg in retail market, comes down.
Co-operative major NAFED yesterday floated tender for import of the bulb from Pakistan, Iran, China and Egypt.
In 1998, Congress had come to power in Delhi defeating the incumbent BJP government riding on high onion prices.
"We are also exploring the possibility of procuring onions at wholesale rate from major onion producing states preferably from the cities of Nasik and Pune to improve supply," the Chief Minister said.
Dikshit said government has approached the Election Commission requesting it to allow sale of onion at reasonable price across the city. The model code of conduct restricts the government from going ahead with the initiative.
"The situation is serious. That is why we have requested the Election Commission to allow us to sell onion at reasonable prices so that people can be insulated," she said, adding 8,000 quintals of onions have arrived in the city which could help ease prices.
"So far, prolonged rains have affected supplies. We hope in next 2-3 days prices will come down. Even though the crop is good, but a lot of it got damaged due to prolonged and heavy rains. We are trying our best to see prices come down. I request traders to stop black marketing and hoarding," she said.
She said that a team of officials has been sent to Maharashtra to negotiate price and get onions.
"We will soon amend APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) Act. Delhi is not a producing state but a consuming and trading state. Control of prices has to be there in producing states," she added
Officials said traders have started selling onions through 55 mobile vans across the city at reasonable price.