Visakhapatnam: The Vigilance and Enforcement Directorate department of Andhra Pradesh launched a statewide crackdown on onion traders on Wednesday and Thursday and seized over 600 quintals of the bulb worth Rs 27 lakh amid growing prices of the staple.
Onions are selling between Rs 60-80 a kg in Vizag, Vijayawada, and other cities across the state. Officials said the traders were sitting on the stock to create scarcity and jack up the prices of the vegetable.
A senior V&E officer said they raided 47 traders of whom 37 were found to be hoarding onions and dodging the Agricultural Market Fee, while the remaining had evaded AMF.
"We seized over 600 quintals of onions worth Rs 27 lakh which have been handed over to the marketing department of Horticulture (does he mean marketing division of the Horticulture department) for further action," said Director General of V&E, KV Rajendranath Reddy.
The officials have slapped a fine on the 37 traders under Section 17 of the AP Agriculture Produce and Livestock Markets Act, 1966, for hoarding onions and they have filed cases against the other 10 traders.
Officials said the traders had been purchasing onions from Maharashtra and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh but didn't maintain stock registers to evade AMF. They had piled up a huge stock to capitalise on the surging price.
Meanwhile, queues in state-run Rythu Bazars in Vizag are only getting longer by the day. In most of these markets, only one counter has been allowed to sell onions at the subsidised rate of Rs 40 a kilo. "However, the onions in Vizag’s Rythu Bazars are of poor quality. In retail markets, medium quality onions have soared up to Rs70 to 80 per kg," said D Sanjay Kumar, a consumer.
Crop damage in Maharashtra and Kurnool due to unseasonal rains, hoarding and unfavourable government policy are causing tears in the eyes of citizens, said onion traders.
KN Murthy, a trader from Vizag, said the city requires at least 35 tonnes of onions every day. He said, "The supply has been 20 tonnes a day. The onion price will further increase in the coming days and it will come down only after the supply from Maharashtra improves."