In a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Dikshit sought curtailment of export of onion so that prices of the vegetable could be brought down. As per estimate, a total of 6.39 lakh tonnes of onion was exported during April-July period.
Assembly elections in Delhi will be held in November. In 1998, the then BJP government was voted out of power and high onion prices were attributed as one of the main reasons for BJP's defeat.
Last week, Delhi government had started selling the vegetable at "reasonable" rates at 350 outlets including 280 Mother Dairy outlets. These outlets are selling the vegetable at Rs 52 per kg.
To mitigate the effect of soaring onion prices, the government decided to sell onions at reasonable rates through 50 mobile vans across the city from August 17.
The issue of rising prices of onion was on Tuesday discussed at a high level meeting attended by Food and Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf and Development Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan besides senior officials of concerned departments.
Chauhan looks after functioning of wholesale vegetable and fruit markets in the city. "The Delhi government is concerned over the rising trend in onion prices. The shortfall in arrival is due to rains in onion producing states," said Yusuf.
He said arrival of onion in Delhi used to be around 2,000 to 2,500 tonnes per day which has come down to 800 to 1000 tonnes per day.

Onion prices make people cry

The price of onions in the wholesale market on Tuesday was Rs.50 a kg, but in retail stores it ranged between Rs.60-80 per kg.

"There has been poor harvest of onions this year due to rain shortage in Maharashtra. Prices of onions will continue to rise. There is inadequate stock to meet demands," Ram Dhan, a vegetable wholesaler in Azadpur Sabzi Mandi, said.

Hoarding by traders is also being blamed for the rise in prices but traders denied any wrongdoing. "There has been no hoarding by us. We are just creating stocks so that we can meet the demand and supply. If we do not create stock right now, there will be months when the onion supply would be nil," said Mahendra Khuranna, owner of Jagriti Agro, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Sabzi Mandi.

Women who manage households have been facing the greatest pinch as their budget has been greatly hit.

"I used to buy three kg of onion for a week, but now I have cut down to one kg because the price has almost tripled," said Arati Negi, a 32-year-old homemaker.

"The overall price of vegetables has increased. Earlier, one could buy four-five different vegetables for a household of two people for Rs.150. But now, with onions selling at Rs.60-80, the budget has doubled. Onions will make people cry for real and it may actually turn out to be a poll issue," said Pallavi Majumdar, professor at Amity University.

"I bought onions in bulk last week only for Rs.40. Though at that time I felt I should not have bought so much, now it is proving to be a blessing in disguise," said Namrata Kapoor, who lives in a joint family.

At Lasalgaon in Nashik, Asia's largest wholesale market for onion, the rate has slightly come down to Rs 45 per kg on Tuesday from Rs 46 a kg, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) data showed.

The spurt in onion prices, which was selling at Rs 20 per kg few weeks back, has disturbed kitchen budget of most consumers who are already facing the brunt of high prices of tomato, pulses and cereals. The price of onion had touched Rs 40 in retail markets in mid-July also but it had come down after supply was normalized.
Yusuf said government would take strict action against hoarders and black marketeers. "The city government is also going to request other states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to take similar action against hoarders of onions," the minister said.