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Onion prices to remain high for two-three weeks: Pawar

Tuesday December 21, 2010 07:27:22 PM,  IANS

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New Delhi: As onion prices sky rocket to Rs.70-80 per kilo, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Tuesday said the situation may continue for the next two to three weeks while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee termed it as "unfortunate", blaming a demand-supply gap.

"Because of heavy rains, crops have been destroyed. In such a situation, it may take two to three weeks for the situation to get normal," Pawar told reporters here.

"The ban on export may make the situation better in some days," he said.

The export of onions has been banned till Jan 15. The National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) announced that it is taking sufficient steps to control the situation.

"The prices are already coming down. It seems like it was some freak phenomena," NAFED Managing Director Sanjeev Chopra said.

"We have suspended exports till January 15. If the situation becomes better we may revise it. The NOC (no objection certificate) for the exports already approved has been raised to $1,200," Chopra said.

"The NAFED will sell onions at stalls across Delhi," Chopra added.

Finance Minister Mukherjee blamed the supply-demand gap for the situation.

"It is very unfortunate that onion prices have risen very high... Now there is a mismatch between supply from mandi to the consumer point. Those bottlenecks have to be removed and I will talk to concerned ministries," Mukherjee told reporters.

"I hope appropriate steps will be taken. Exports have already been banned," he said.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma had Monday said that hoarding was responsible for the price rise.

"The price rise is because of hoarding, there is enough stock in the country," Sharma had said.

Commenting on hoarding, Pawar said that state governments have been asked to act on it.

The issue has been taken up by the opposition, which blames the government's faulty economic policies for the situation.

"It is because of the wrong economic policies and bad governance of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance)," BJP president Nitin Gadkari told television channels.

Communist Party of India's (CPI) D. Raja said here the government was helpless against market forces.

"Government pleads helplessness against market forces. One minister is saying it is bad weather, other says it is hoarding. If it is hoarding, they must act against it and tell the nation," Raja said.






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