Five Maha traders ma­nip­u­lat­ing onion prices: Re­port


NEW DELHI: When there is a scarcity of onion and prices shoot up, it is un­der­stand­able. But, what if there is no short­age of the essen­tial com­mod­ity and yet prices sky­rocket, it may lead to sus­pi­cions that some­body is ma­nip­u­lat­ing the price of the po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive com­mod­ity by cre­at­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial short­age.

The Min­istry of Con­sumer Af­fairs, which is re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing the avail­abil­ity of onions in the coun­try, was in for a rude shock af­ter know­ing that there are five traders in Ma­ha­rash­tra who formed a car­tel to ma­nip­u­late the price of onion.

The star­tling rev­e­la­tion has come to no­tice of the govern­ment af­ter the In­tel­li­gence Bureau (IB) sub­mit­ted a re­port to the min­istry about carteliza­tion of onion prices by five Ma­ha­rash­tra traders. Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cial, the min­istry re­ceived the IB re­port in July. The IB re­port clearly men­tioned that there was no short­age of onion in the coun­try, but the ar­ti­fi­cial short­age was cre­ated by five Ma­ha­rash­tra traders who hoarded the essen­tial com­mod­ity in the vil­lages of Lasal­gaon and Pim­pal­gaon in Nashik, an of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

While re­fus­ing to re­veal the names of five traders iden­ti­fied by the IB, the of­fi­cial said, “The min­istry has shared details of the car­tel with the Ma­ha­rash­tra govern­ment. The Cen­tre has also asked the state govern­ment to take stern ac­tion against all hoard­ers.”

“In the re­port, it has been men­tioned that since hoard­ers have stocked onion in Ma­ha­rash­tra, the sup­ply chain of the com­mod­ity was af­fected in other parts of the coun­try re­sult­ing in steep rise in onion prices,” the of­fi­cial said, adding the Ma­ha­rash­tra govern­ment has been asked to sub­mit their ac­tion taken re­port at the ear­li­est. Ac­cord­ing to the allindia av­er­age re­tail price, onion is be­ing sold at Rs 15/kg to Rs 28.94/ kg. The sce­nario is worse in metro cities as the price rise has been steeper. The essen­tial com­mod­ity is be­ing sold at Rs 31/kg in Chen­nai, Rs 38/kg in Delhi, Rs 40/kg in Kolkata and Rs 30/ kg in Mumbai.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, Ramesh Chan­dra La­hoti, who heads Grain Mer­chants’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Bengaluru, said, “It’s not new. The com­mod­ity mar­ket has wit­nessed sev­eral in­stances of carteliza­tion. We have been rais­ing the is­sue for a long, but the govern­ment never acted on it. The Cen­tre acted af­ter the in­tel­li­gence agency con­firmed the pres­ence of a car­tel.”

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