Mumbai, Oct 5 (UNI) In a bid to contain the spiralling prices of onions, Maharashtra Marketing Minister Harshvardhan Patil today said Onions procured from farmers would be brought to the city, sold directly to consumers and there will be no levy of cess on the vehicles by the Mumbai Agriculture Produce Market Committee.
He was speaking at a meeting at Mantralaya to review the situation arising out of the rising prices. Mr Patil said the onions would be made available to consumers through sahakari bhandars, farmers co-operative federation and Apna bazaars from Monday.
Prinicipal Secretary (Marketing) Sudhirkumar Goyal, Principal Secretary (Food and Civil Supplies) K P Bakshi, Deputy Director of Co-operative institutions from onion producing districts of the state, Secretary of Mumbai Agriculture produce committee D B Gosavi were among those present on the occasion.
Mr Patil denied media reports that NAFED had banned onion exports. He said, ''due to these reports, farmers took away their produce in fear that due to the ban, onions will be available in large quantity and prices would go down. Some farmers did not even bring their crop to the market. Hence, despite availability, Onions were not brought to the market. This resulted in shortage of onions and rise in prices in Mumbai. In some places, traders did not participate in the onion auction.
The Minister said showcause notice will be served to traders, who did not participate in the auction even though onions had been brought to the APMC.
Today, 76 trucks containing onions were brought to the city. As per the market prices in onion producing districts, onion per kg is available between Rs 15 to Rs 17, whereas in Mumbai the price is Rs 25 per kg.
''This shows that middlemen are benefiting out of this unnatural price rise and farmers are not getting a penny. Hence, in the interest of farmers and the consumers, the government has decided that onions produced by the farmers will be directly brought to Mumbai. This will help to reduce the price,'' he said.
The Minister said onions were available in sufficient quantity in Satara, Sangli, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Pune and Nashik. The Deputy Directors of co-operative institutions in these districts should co-ordinate with the onion growers to ensure that their produce is brought directly to Mumbai. A monitoring committee, headed by Principal Secretary (co operation and marketing), is being set up, he informed.
Meanwhile, Marketing federation officials have left for Hubli and Dharwad in Karnataka to purchase onions to be brought to Maharashtra, especially Mumbai. The onion production in the state is 15 to 17 lakh metric tonnes and the storage capacity is three lakh metric tonnes. The storage capacity will be increased to five lakh metric tonnes in the next two years, the Minister added.