Delhi govt threatens to invoke ESMA against onion traders

New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) Delhi government today threatenedto invoke the Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) againstonion traders in Asia''s biggest wholesale vegetable market,who have called a strike from tomorrow, a move which is likelyto further fuel the prices of the vegetable.

"If necessary, Delhi government would not hesitate toinvoke ESMA against the onion traders if they go on thestrike. We are trying our best to bring down the prices ofonion and at this juncture the strike is totally uncalledfor," Delhi Food and Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf toldPTI.

Onion traders here in Azadpur mandi, Asia''s largestwholesale fruit and vegetable market, today said they will goon an indefinite strike from tomorrow to protest the IncomeTax Department''s raids on them.

The Income Tax department had yesterday carried out asurvey of the business premises of big onion and vegetabletraders, including at Azadpur wholesale market, to detectpossible hoarding and profiteering.

Yusuf, however, said government was ready to look into"genuine grivances" of the traders but would not allow them tomake people suffer because of the agitation.

The strike call by traders in Azadpur mandi follows asimilar move in Nashik, Maharashtra, where the crisis wasaverted yesterday following intervention by local authorities.

Onion is selling at Rs 60/kg in the national capital.

Prices are set to rise tomorrow in case the government doesnot intervene and the strike is called off, traders said.

Since last week, income tax authorities are carryingout surveys and raids on onion traders in different parts ofthe country to check hoarding.

To provide relief to people, Delhi government has madearrangement to sell onion at Rs 35 per kg at around 400 selectoutlets across in the city including the Mother Dairy storesand Kendriya Bhandars.

Yusuf said the subsidised onion would be made availableat the outlets from tomorrow.

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