Centre extends relaxed norms for onion imports

Centre extends relaxed norms for onion imports till January 31

The relaxation will be subject to certain conditions

Representative image. Credit: AFP file photo.

With prices of onions still ruling high, the Centre on Thursday extended the relaxation in import norms for the bulb till January 31 to ensure steady supply of the kitchen staple in domestic markets.

On October 21, the government had relaxed the conditions for fumigation and additional declaration on the Phytosanitary Certificate (PSC) under the Plant Quarantine Order (PQ), 2003 for import up to December 15, 2020, an official statement said.

The relaxation will be subject to certain conditions, it said, adding that the consignments of imported onions, which arrive in Indian ports without fumigation and such endorsement on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.

The consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India.

Further, if smut or dry rot is intercepted during the inspection, the particular container will be rejected and deported.

In case of pests like stem and bulbs nematode or onion maggot being detected, these should be eliminated through fumigation and the consignment be released without additional inspection fee, it added.

The ministry said that the conditions also stipulate that an undertaking should be obtained from importers stating that the onions will be used only for consumption and not for propagation.

Also, such consignments of onion for consumption will not be subjected to the four times additional inspection fee for non-compliance of conditions of import under the PQ Order, 2003, it noted.

The import relaxations were part of measures initiated after the prices of onions had spiked in September-October due to loss of crop in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra following unseasonal rainfall.

Onion prices have started moderating to some extent in some parts of the country with the arrival of the new crop, but it still retails in the range of Rs 40-50 per kg in the national capital, depending on quality.