M A I N   N E W S

Rethink ban on onions, govt urges Pakistan
n Punjab feels the pinch, prices start moving up n Lahore traders protest government move
Tribune News Service

Delhi/Amritsar, January 6
As onion import came to a grinding halt, with Pakistan not allowing even a single truck carrying the vegetable to cross over at Wagah, India asked Islamabad to reconsider its decision.

“It is shocking and unfortunate that Pakistan has banned export of onions to India via land route. We have urged them that the contracted quantities which were to come via the land route should be released,” said Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

“We’ve requested Pakistan that at least those consignments that had already been booked by Indian importers should be allowed to enter the country. Our embassy in Islamabad is in touch with the authorities there,” he said.

While Sharma reviewed the situation with heads of government importing agencies, STC and PEC, top secretaries of the ministries of agriculture, commerce and finance met Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar to find alternative supplies.

After the meeting, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said a contract had been concluded with Pakistan via sea route. "Onion will arrive at Mundra port(in Gujarat)," he said.

Meanwhile, competition watchdog CCI ordered a probe into the possible cartelisation by traders.

Meanwhile, Pakistan traders are up in arms against their government’s sudden move to ban export of onions to India.

According to reports pouring in from Pakistan, the traders staged protests at Gujranwala and Lahore. “We have already taken orders from Indian importers and can lose millions of rupees due to this move. Further, truckloads of onions stranded near Wagah can go waste,” said exporters.

A government spokesperson was also quoted as saying that after the ban the onion prices have dipped by 45 per cent.

Talking to The Tribune, Om Prakash Arora, a leading importer, said the traders in Lahore are upset with their government as they are suffering huge losses due to the latest move. He said the onion supply from Pakistan was feeding Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Chandigarh, New Delhi and even parts of the NCR. The ban has started showing its impact on the market as onion prices have started soaring, he added. His statement was corroborated by Gaurav Behl, a local wholesaler, who said the market today witnessed an increase of Rs 4 to Rs 5 per kg in onion prices.

Onions are currently being sold at Rs 45-50 per kg in markets of Chandigarh and several parts of Punjab, including Ludhiana and Amritsar, traders said. Retail prices of onions had dipped from a peak of Rs 60-65 per kg to a level of Rs 40-45 per kg almost 13 days back after onions from the neighbouring country entered the retail market.

Rajdeep Uppal, MD of Narain Exim, said Pakistan traders haven’t got permission to export onions through rail route. The chances of reversal of ban are grim, he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition slammed the UPA Government for not doing enough to contain the price rise.





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