Delhi, Centre lock horns over supply of onions

“Delhi government is asking for onions but the central government is not giving. The central government has stopped giving onion to the Delhi government,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said accusing the Centre of deliberately creating scarcity on onions. Photo/PTI

After war over the quality of piped drinking water in the national capital, the Delhi government has locked horns with the Centre over the rising prices of onions.

As Centre's supply of onions through the buffer stocks dried up, the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia hit out at the Modi government for deliberately creating scarcity of the kitchen staple, shortage of which was famously one of the reasons for ouster of the BJP government from the national capital in 1998.

The BJP has struggled to make a comeback in the national capital, which witnessed a 15-year stint of the Congress under charismatic Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit before the arrival of AAP's Arvind Kejriwal on the political firmament.

Supply of onions has always been a prickly issue in the capital where the bulb forms a ubiquitous side dish at the numerous roadside eateries and posh restaurants alike.

Onion prices have shot through the roof in Delhi, bringing tears to many households that have to shell out Rs 100 per kg of the kitchen staple.

Little wonder that Sisodia tried to deflect the criticism over the high prices to the central government accusing it of not releasing enough stock of onions across markets in the capital.

The capital receives its onion supplies mainly from the wholesale markets at Alwar in Rajasthan and Lasalgaon in Maharashtra. While the supplies from Alwar were strong for the past couple of months, unseasonal rains in Maharashtra damaged the onion crop and also hit transportation, creating a shortage in the capital.

“Delhi government is asking for onions but the central government is not giving. The central government has stopped giving onion to the Delhi government,” Sisodia said accusing the Centre of deliberately creating scarcity on onions.

The AAP government reminded the Centre that it had 56,000 tonnes of onions in buffer stock. “What happened to the stock they had claimed to have,” he  asked, making a demand for 10 truckloads of onions or 2.5 tonnes supplies on a daily basis.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre had distributed 26,735 tonnes of onions from the buffer stock to various state governments, while 11,408 tonnes of low-quality onions were disposed of in local markets.

Last month had witnessed a war of words between the Delhi government and the Centre after the Bureau of Indian Standards found that piped drinking water in the national capital was "undrinkable".

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