Nafed, Kejriwal govt fight over onion

Last Updated 06 August 2015, 04:39 IST

Consumers continued to buy onions at Rs 50-70 a kg on Wednesday amid indications that the Arvind Kejriwal government allegedly goofed up in communication with cooperative Nafed, which was ready to deliver enough affordable Nashik onions to the city.

The Delhi government, which is now preparing to sell subsidised onions at Rs 40 a kg through over 280 outlets, declined to take the blame for costly onions in the city and, in turn, blamed Nafed for the crisis.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed) Director Bijender Singh told Deccan Herald that had the Kejriwal government taken timely decision to place orders, there would have been no need to supply subsidised onions at a high Rs 40 a kg.   

“They did not act on time to involve Nafed and are now lifting onions at a much higher price from Nashik,” said Bijender Singh, a former Congress legislator, alleging mismanagement and wasteful spending by the AAP government.  

The AAP government also seems to have failed to set up a state-level Price Stabilisation Fund Management Committee (PSFMC) and a State Level Corpus Fund (SLCF) till as late as July 24, which resulted in denial of Rs 7.5 crore assistance from a Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) of the federal government’s Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).
A joint secretary of the Department of Agriculture also wrote to the Delhi government on July 24 to remind Delhi Food and Supplies Commissioner Sanjeev Khirwar about the non-constitution of the PSFMC.

“You will appreciate that these are among measures that are required to be fulfilled before assistance is sought from PSF,” said Joint Secretary K S Srinivas of Department of Agriculture.

Financial help from the central government was sought by the Kejriwal government much after it had already initiated the procurement of 5,000 metric tonnes (MT) of onion and 2,000 MT of potato at Rs 15 crore.

This alleged irregularity was also pointed out by Srinivas in his letter. A letter written by Nafed to the Delhi government on April 13 said that the federation “would deliver the stocks to the government of Delhi at the given destinations on cost price or the price as decided by the DAC against receipt of advance payment”.

In another letter dated June 18,  Nafed said the Delhi “government is informed again about the procurement and buffer stocking of onion by Nafed... with the request to inform us the schedule and location of delivery of onion at Delhi for its disposal/distribution by them”.

In a press statement, the Kejriwal government blamed the alleged flip-flop by Nafed and its failure to assure delivery of good quality onions in Delhi for the mess.     
The statement said Nafed had informed the Delhi government in its letter dated July 24:

“Arrangement for transportation of onions from the storage points at Nasik to the desired destinations shall be made available by the state governments. Nafed shall not be responsible for any deterioration in quality and storage loss.”

“The Delhi government would like to know from Nafed whether it is ready to sell good quality onions to any state at a rate different from any other central government mandated procurement agency,” said the statement, slamming media reports that pointed to alleged carelessness of the Kejriwal government in handling the onion crisis.

“It was reported in a section of media that Nafed that initiated the process of dispatching onions to Delhi market on 28 July. Later Nafed itself clarified that on instructions from the central government, it would supply onions procured under PSF to eight major cities in the country, which surprisingly did not include Delhi,” said the statement.

(Published 06 August 2015, 04:39 IST)

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