Traders call off strike; onion crisis averted

New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) Averting further escalation ofonion prices, wholesale traders in the city today withdrewtheir strike and resumed normal trading following an assuranceby the Delhi government that they would not be "harassed".

The traders in Azadpur and other wholesale vegetablemarkets called off the strike after a meeting with ChiefMinister Sheila Dikshit and announced that onion prices wouldcome down "substantially" with new crops arriving in the nextfew days.

"We have decided to call off the strike as the ChiefMinister told us that she will look into our grievance,especially the harassment meted out by officials of the incometax department during raids at our premises," AzadpurVegetable Market Association Secretary Rajender Sharma said.

Trading at Azadpur resumed in the afternoon buttransactions were low key. "Traders sold around 100-125 tonnesof onion after lifting of the stir," Sharma said, adding thatgenerally 800-1000 tonnes reach Azadpur everyday.

Complete normally is expected from tomorrow.

The traders, who began an indefinite strike thismorning protesting income tax raids, were assured by Dikshitthat she would take up the issue with the income taxauthorities about their grievances.

Thanking the traders for withdrawing the strike, Dikshitsaid she was confident that the prices would substantiallycome down in next two-three days.

"... I will write to the local I-T authorities sayingthat there seems to be cases of harassment of traders," shesaid.

According to Surendra Budhi Raj, a wholesale trader,thevegetable bulb was sold at Rs 35-45 a kg in the Azadpur mandi.

Sharma said prices are expected to move downhill fromMonday next with the increase in arrivals of kharif crop fromMaharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other places.

Meanwhile, according to the official data, retail onionprices were Rs 56 a kg in Delhi today, Rs 57 per kg in Mumbai,48 per kg in Kolkata (Rs and Rs 39 per kg in Chennai

Traders in Azadpur mandi, Asia''s largest wholesalefruit and vegetable market, had downed shutters and stoppedauction in the morning. They were joined by traders from othermarkets at Ghazipur and Okhla.

The income tax department has been carrying out searchesand surveys throughout the country, including Delhi, to detecthoarding and profiteering. Traders in Nashik, major onionproducing area, had also protested the I-T action.

The Delhi government had yesterday threatened to invokethe Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) against traders.


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