Nashik onion traders’ premises raided by Income Tax department on soaring prices

Searches conducted by the income tax (I-T) department at the premises of seven onion traders in Nashik district have resulted in wholesale onion prices crashing to Rs 2,951 per quintal at Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb.

Ten days ago, wholesale onion prices for the first time crossed the Rs 4,000 per quintal mark, the highest in the last six months. Retail onion prices had gone up to Rs 50 per kg as against earlier prices of Rs 35-40 per kg in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai due to crop damages caused by heavy rainfall.

Sources from the I-T department revealed that the searches were carried out to ascertain whether these traders in Pimpalgaon Baswant, another major onion market, had any unaccounted-for income and whether they are paying taxes on their total income.

In November last year (2020), the I-T department had conducted searches on 11 onion traders in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, after the average wholesale onion prices had crossed Rs 5,000 per quintal mark.

Currently, farmers are bringing the summer crop to the market and, therefore, arrivals are low since stocks are depleting, she said. “The early kharif crop arrivals should begin after Diwali. But the incessant rains have damaged the crop to the extent of 30-40%.

Significantly, the central government is trying to stabilise the price of onions by releasing buffer stocks in states where onions are being sold above the all-India average price, and where price has been on the rise from last month, the ministry of food and consumer affairs said.

The ministry also said that onion stocks are being released on a first-in-first-out basis in the market since the last week of August to ensure prices remain moderate and loss due to storage can be minimised. Consequently, the all-India average retail price of onion was at Rs 37.06 per kg, while the average wholesale rate was Rs 30 per kg on October 14, as a result of releasing onion stocks in a calibrated manner, the ministry added.

“Till October 12, a total of 67,357 tonne have been released in major markets such as Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Kochi and Raipur,” the official release stated.

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