Hyderabad: The Telangana state government has sprung into action to check rising onion prices after onion price crossed ‘century mark’ in the retail market. The government has decided to open onion outlets in Rythu Bazars in Hyderabad from Wednesday to sell onions at a subsidised price of Rs 40 per kg. Initially, these special outlets will be opened at Saroor Nagar and Mehdipatnam Rythu Bazars, which will be later extended to all Rythu Bazars in a phased manner.

However, the government has fixed a ‘quota’ for consumers to purchase onions at subsidised price. Each consumer will be allowed to buy only one kg of subsidised onions at the rate of Rs 40 per kg. The arrangement has been made because of the skyrocketing prices of onions.

Furthermore, acting on directions from Agriculture Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, agriculture principal secretary C Parthasarathi and marketing department director Laxmi Bai on Tuesday held discussions with wholesale onion traders at Malakpet, to arrange onions for sale at subsidised prices. Initially, two tonnes of onions will be made available for purchase at subsidised rates.

Niranjan Reddy decided to write a letter to the Centre to allot some quantity of imported onions to Telangana. Traders have agreed to sell onions at Rs 40 per kg to the government, which has agreed to bear the cost of transportation and hamali charges.

The recent spells of incessant rains hit onion production in Telugu states. The Centre is importing one lakh tonne of onions and has asked public sector trading firm MMTC to procure 6,090 tonnes to help meet domestic demand. However, the present situation is likely to continue for some more time.

Supplies of onions to Hyderabad from neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka drastically came down. The markets here have received just about 80 truckloads of onions, as against the standard 120-150 lorries per day. There is no let-up in onion prices even though 90 per cent of the onions received are damp.

The quality of onions received from some of the districts, including Mahabubnagar and Medak, is stated to be inferior. In all, 50 per cent of onions received from these places as well as stocks from Karnataka and Maharashtra are reportedly damaged. Still, onion prices vary between Rs 9,500 and Rs 11,000 per quintal.

The poor can’t afford the increased prices, and so they are cutting down on its consumption, even though it forms part of their staple food. Officials have crossed their fingers on how to regulate the prices of onions.

Amidst all this, some unscrupulous traders have started hoarding onions in anticipation of the eventual rise in their prices. Traders who had hoarded onions in godowns three months back are now bringing out the stocks, as prices are sky-high. The state government is not responding properly to regulate prices, sources said. Hence, many traders rule out any stabilisation in the skyrocketing onion prices for the time being.

In some states, onions are being sold through special counters at subsidised prices. This process has not yet begun in Hyderabad. Consumers are paying through the nose for the vegetable in the open market.

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