Onion prices which have been rising for weeks now have crossed the psychological mark of Rs 80 a kg in Delhi.
In the light of public concern over high prices of onions in the market, the Ministry of Agriculture today decided to allow relaxation from the condition of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for onion imports up to November 30.
The fumigation provisions have been liberalised as the government has decided to facilitate private import of the key kitchen staple from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran to boost the availability and check price rise.
The Agriculture Ministry said that conditions to be met are that such consignments of imported onions which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.
The consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India.
The consignments of onions for consumption will not be subjected to the four times additional inspection fees on account of non-compliance of conditions of import under the PQ Order, 2003.
Currently, imported onions are allowed in the country after the commodity is fumigated with Methyl Bromide and certified by the exporting nation. Importers are required to pay huge charges if found non-complied with this provision.
Retail prices of onion in the country have remained high for more than a month due to 30-40 per cent decline in the kharif onion output because of heavy rains in the growing states.
The prices have been under pressure despite the government measures including offloading the buffer stock for retailing at a cheaper rate, ban on exports and imposition of stock holding limits on traders.
The Congress today seized the issue to attack the BJP government at the Centre.
Party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said that there is sufficient quality of onions in the country, but prices are on the boil because the government is protecting the blackmarketeers who have hoarded the staple vegetable.
"Now the government is going to import onion. We have strong objections on it. The farmers are not benefiting with the price rise. We would request the government not to quick-fix and put band aid", she added.
The Congress is objecting to the government plans to import onions which it is resorting to increase the supply.