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The strike has raised fears of a shortage in retail markets and a hike in prices | iStock photo

Nashik onion traders on indefinite strike over export duty hike; govt warns of action

The District Sub-registrar, Co-operative Societies, has issued an order directing all APMCs to suspend or cancel the licences of the striking traders

Onion traders in Maharashtra’s Nashik district have suspended auctions in all agriculture produce market committees indefinitely, raising the fear of a shortage in retail markets and a hike in prices.

The protest is against the Centre’s recent move to increase export duty on onions up to 40 per cent, which will remain in force till December 31, said an office-bearer of the Nashik District Onion Traders’ Association (NDOTA) on Wednesday (September 20).

Taking serious cognisance, the District Sub-registrar, Co-operative Societies, on Wednesday night issued an order directing all APMCs to suspend or cancel the licences of the striking traders and submit the Action Taken Report on September 21.

“In protest against the export duty hike decision, we have decided to shut the auction of onions in all APMCs in the district indefinitely. The Centre’s decision will not only make export of onions difficult but will also affect the onions in transit, causing a huge loss to farmers,” the office-bearer said.

Traders’ demand

Earlier on Wednesday, Maharashtra marketing minister Abdul Sattar said observing a bandh (shutting auctions of onions) was not right. “Secretaries in the departments of cooperation and marketing will discuss the action to be taken as per rules and Nashik district collector will take the necessary action,” he said on the sidelines of an event.

Notably, auctions of onions remained closed at most APMCs in Nashik district, including at Lasalgaon, the largest wholesale onion market in India, on Wednesday.

“We had given time till September 19 to the government to find a solution to our demands. But as our demands have not been agreed to yet, we have decided to shut the auction of onions indefinitely,” the office-bearer said.

The other demands raised by traders include the cancellation of export duty on onions, a 50 per cent reduction in market fees, participation by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF) in auctions and a 50 per cent subsidy in transport of onions.

Accordingly, onion auctions did not take place in all APMCs in Nashik district on Wednesday, including in the Lasalgaon APMC. No onions arrived at APMCs, sources said.

Govt warning

The government order mentions that Khandu Deore, president of Nashik District Onion Traders Association, had written a letter on September 13 to minister Sattar, mentioning four demands and warning of not participating in onion auctions from September 19.

Accordingly, the minister has organized a meeting of officials of the marketing department on September 26. The minister also requested the traders to defer the agitation. Despite that, the traders and brokers resorted to strike, which has caused many problems for farmers in the sale of various agri produce, the order said.

“Even in the meeting held by the government on Wednesday (September 20), the traders and brokers remained adamant on their stand. As a result, the order of immediate legal action has been issued,” it said.

Accordingly, as per the Maharashtra Agriculture Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963, all the APMCs should make optional arrangements and take necessary measures to continue the sale and purchase deals of agri produce.

APMCs have the right to suspend or cancel the licenses of such traders. According to the provision, the APMCs should immediately suspend or cancel the licenses of such traders. In addition, a necessary process should be implemented to issue licenses to new buyers who want to buy goods at the APMCs, the order said.

If an APMC fails to follow the order, action will be taken against the board of directors and the secretary, the order added.

(With agency inputs)

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