The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today said that Government is making all efforts to ensure that prices of Onions are moderated across the nation. Addressing media on various issues including efforts being made by the Government to provide clean drinking water to the citizens of the country, Shri Paswan said that prices of Onions are a cause of concern to the Union Government and the situation is being closely monitored by a team of five Union Ministers chaired by the Home Minister which has already held one meeting and another one will be held soon. Cabinet Secretary and a Committee of Secretaries is also keeping an eye on the situation and suitable policy interventions are being undertaken based on the deliberations.
The Union Consumer Affairs Minister stressed the fact the there is a 26% decline in domestic production due to a delayed monsoon initially which delayed sowing followed by untimely rains and cyclones and the buffer stock of 57,000 tons of Onions with the Government has been liquidated therefore there is a need to import. Talking about the import of Onions, Shri Paswan said that the season for onion cultivation is mostly over across the world except for Turkey and Holland and the Government is making all efforts to get stocks from these countries and Egypt as early as possible for distribution among States and Cooperatives. Indian Missions in these countries are also trying to facilitate the movement of stock from these countries.
Talking about the quality of piped water, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan reiterated that it is a matter of public health and safely and no politics should be done on it. He said that thousands of children are suffering daily from various water borne diseases and therefore it is utmost important to ensure that clean and safe potable drinking water is provided to all especially the poorest of the poor who cannot afford any water purification mechanism such as RO or water filters. Shri Paswan exhorted State Governments to implement the Standards set by Bureau of Indian Standard and provide quality water to all. He said that the purpose is to bring awareness among the masses so that they do not fall prey to water borne diseases.
The Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs today also chaired an Inter-Ministerial meeting to monitor the price and availability of onions across the nation. The following key decisions have been taken:
- A letter has been written by the Consumer Affairs Secretary to Chief Secretaries of all States asking them to suitably reduce the stock limits further in their States as per the availability and prices. They have also been exhorted to strictly enforce these stock limits and send an action taken report on a weekly basis.
- Time Period for Domestic Stock holding limit on retailers and wholesalers are being further extended until further orders.
- MMTC informed that the first shipment of onions from Egypt shall arrive in the second week of December and the second shipment thereafter.
- MMTC has floated a country specific tender for import of onions
- MMTC to work out modalities of transportation of sealed container of onions from Mumbai port directly to FHEL facility at Rai, Sonipat with curing, customs clearance, etc.
- DACFW (Horticulture Division) in consultation with National Horticulture Board to provide an assessment about shelf-life in cold storage facility of imported onions from Egypt. MMTC opined that onions from Turkey/Holland may be stored for relatively longer periods as compared to those from Egypt given the respective climatic conditions.
- DACFW (Horticulture Division) also informed that they are organizing a video conference with States/UTs today for an assessment of Kharif onion arrivals.