Bring down onion prices, government told

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the central government to take steps to ensure that onion prices fall so that common people do not suffer.

Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging inaction by the government in controlling onion prices.

The judges spoke after Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra, appearing for the central government, assured the court that major steps have been taken to control onion prices.

Mehra, submitting a status report filed by the department of consumer affairs of the agriculture ministry, told the court that onion prices depend on production and arrival of onions, and that domestic prices tend to peak September-November and fall January-March every year.

The central government has sent a request to Maharashtra, which produces the largest quantity of onions, to supply onions to Delhi, Mehra added.

The said: "(Mehra) assures that (the central government) will aggressively persuade Maharashtra for sufficient supply of onions to Delhi so that the issue can be addressed.

"Steps to be taken by the Delhi government and centre to ensure that the onion price issue will be addressed so that common people should not suffer."

Social worker Poonam Jain, who filed the PIL, said the government's failure to curb hoarding in Delhi and in Maharashtra had led to scarcity.

The PIL accused the governments of turning a blind eye to illegal trade and not revising its export policy that has pushed up prices of onions to around Rs.70 to Rs.90 per kg.

The plea asked the court to "direct respondents to take special measures to supply onions in the market in sufficient quantity".