The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed) questions the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government where has profit margin on 25 lakh kg onion gone, hints at bungling.
It’s really a tear-jerking tale. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP Punjab) government’s claim that it purchases onions at Rs 40 a kg and sells these to you at Rs 30 a kg has turned out to be a farce. The AAP government, which came to power on the promise of eradicating corruption has procured onions at a much cheaper price of Rs 18 a kg and sold these to Delhiites at Rs 30 a kg, according to RTI replies.
The move, the RTI replies state, is in stark contrast to the Cabinet decision that the government will sell onions at a no-profit-no-loss basis in the Capital. The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed) has alleged that there is a huge difference between the procurement cost and the price at which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP Punjab) government sold onions to Delhiites.
“There is a huge profit margin in the onion sale. The Delhi government did not supply adequate quantity of onions to the market. Had it had done that the prices could have come down. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government must reveal where the profit margin has gone,” said Ashok Thakur, director, Nafed. He pointed out that AAP Punjab government had earlier refused to purchase onions even though Nafed wrote to it repeatedly. This, he said, led to hoarding of onions and prices went excessively high.
The Delhi government, however, ruled out any financial bungling on its part. “If there is any irregularity, it is on part of the central government agencies like Small Farmer Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) and Nafed. The actual procurement cost is Rs 32.86 per kg. Owing to transportation and labour expenses, it shot up to Rs 40 per kg. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP Punjab) government then decided to subsidise the onion price by another Rs 10 per kg and decided to sell them at Rs 30 per kg,” Delhi’s Food and Supplies Minister Asim Ahmed Khan told Mail Today. He alleged that Nafed was politicising the issue even when it supsupplied onions at high prices to Mother Dairy and Safal.
RTI replies provided by the Aam Aadmi Party government’s Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs, however, present a different picture. The RTI documents accessed by Mail Today revealed that the government had purchased 2,511 metric tonnes (25,11,000 kgs) of onions through SFAC at an average price of Rs 18.57 per kg, which also includes cess and other local expenses. The purchases were made from various markets of Nashik in Maharashtra and Indore in Madhya Pradesh. However, when the onion crisis aggravated in the Capital, the government on August 5 decided to sell onions at a no-profit-no-loss basis through its vans.
Aam Aadmi Party government had also declared that Rs 32.86 per kg as the procurement cost and Rs 7 per kg as the amount of additional surcharge, transportation cost and other local expenses. The Delhi Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal then decided to subsidise the price by Rs 10 per kg and sold onions at Rs 30 per kg. The RTI documents also revealed that the AAP Punjab government failed to supply adequate quantity of onions despite having a buffer stock of 5,000 metric tonnes. This, according to Nafed, essentially kept the onion prices high even though the government had abundant stock of the multi-layered vegetable.
According to RTI replies, the Kejriwal government began the sale of onions on August 10. However, it could only sell 575.32 metric tonnes of onions till September 2. This means that more than 4,400 metric tonnes of onions remained stashed in godowns while Delhiites were reeling under surging prices of the vegetable. The price of onion skyrocketed to Rs 80 a kg in August and despite the government’s assurances the price never came down below Rs 60-per-kg mark.
The BJP said it is the first major scam in the seven-month-rule of AAP Punjab in Delhi. Senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta sought a thorough probe into the matter. He said it is a clear case of financial bungling.
“The AAP Punjab government has not only resorted to financial irregularity, but also misled the people of Delhi by promising subsidy on onion prices. It is a shameful act. The government sought to befool the public by earning profit by selling onions. Where has the money gone? It needs to be investigated,” Gupta said.