Himansu Shekhar Rout

Hours after activists of the Odisha Chhatra Congress staged protests outside the official residence of Agriculture Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain in Bhubaneswar over skyrocketing onion prices, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, Atanu Sabyaschi Nayak seemingly passed the buck to the Union government, terming the price rise as a nation-wide problem. 

Speaking to the media, Nayak, said, “The price rise in onions is a national issue. The price of onion has not only increased in Odisha but also in other states. There are several reasons behind the price rise. The Central government needs to pay heed to such price spikes. If the central government takes measures, the price can be controlled.”

He further stated, “Our responsibility is to check the hoarding and black-marketing of onion. We have kept tabs on the situation. A senior official of the Central government today said that in Nasik, which is a major supplier of onions, the new crops have not been harvested.”

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The minister also added that action has been taken in the past against some traders who had resorted to artificial hoarding of onions. Action will be taken against such practices in the future, he warned.

Earlier in the day, Chhatra Congress leaders gheraoed the official residence of the Agriculture Minister, accusing the State government of failing to contain the price rise and black marketing of onions. During the demonstrations, the Student Congress leaders sold onion at Rs 20 per kg. They also warned of intensifying the agitation if the price rise was not arrested.