onion scam
The AAP government has said that central agency SFAC sold them onions at Rs 32.86 per kg. [Representational Image]Reuters

An estimate made by the government's policy think-tank NITI Aayog showed that the traders made Rs 8,000 crore from the recent onion crisis by artificially raising the prices.

The think-tank established by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently held discussions with the concerned ministries "to find a long-term solution to recurring onion crises."

"The rough calculation comes to Rs 8,000 crore, which is the price consumers were forced to pay to traders and middlemen this year," a senior official, who attended the discussions, told Business Standard.

The Aayog estimated the money earned by traders through manipulation of onion prices in August and September by taking into account average monthly consumption of onions in the country and multiplying it with extra cost paid by consumers in the past two months.

Officials from the ministries of agriculture, consumer affairs and commerce, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Nafed, and the Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC) participated in the discussions.

Currently, consumption of onions in the country is more than a million ton per month. Retail prices of onions rose to as high as Rs 70/kg in many parts of the country in August and September, up Rs 40 compared to the average price recorded a year earlier.

Concerned over the skyrocketing onion prices, the Central government had asked public sector trading body MMTC to import 10,000 metric tonnes of onions to contain the rising prices.

Agencies like Nafed and SFAC spend around Rs 100-200 crore on storage of onions, while the extra cost incurred by the consumers in the recent spike in onion prices is far above that.

"It is imperative to use price stabilisation instruments to deal with onion crises," the official said.

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