The soaring prices of onion are literally making people cry in Chennai. With a nearly threefold rise, the vegetable is now being sold for Rs 105 to Rs 150 a kg, following a short supply from Maharashtra.
At a vegetable outlet in city's Mylapore, Kalpana, a young mother decides to NOT buy onions as part of her weekly purchase as she can't afford it anymore. Kalpana, who has two children to take care of, used to work at a salon but lost her job during the lockdown. Her husband also suffered a salary cut.
"I will have to manage without onions. For seven months now, I have been at home .I couldn't find any work. I have two children and it's very difficult. I have to pay house rent also. I might buy when the price comes down," she said.
Ten minutes later, Lakshmi, who works for a tech company, buys just half the quantity of onions she would normally buy. She says both she and her husband suffered a 50 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
"The price rise is a double blow along with the salary cut. We've to manage. We have cut all the major expenses. We can't avoid onions so we are buying it in less quantity," she said.
Traders blame it on short supply due to heavy rains, which damaged the standing Kharif crop, in Maharashtra. A section of them attribute it to the state government not allowing 80 percent of the vegetable shops to reopen at the Koyambedu Vegetable market in Chennai, the largest one with around 2,000 shops. The market had turned into a super spreader in May, accounting for 3,500 positive cases
Muthukumar, a trader from the association told NDTV "When 80 per cent of shops are closed, the procurement becomes less and when there is a short supply, it worsens. Also, many traders hoard in their private go downs to make huge profits".
Sivan, a vegetable shopkeeper, said, " The demand has come down due to a hike in price. Those who used to buy a kilo earlier, now buy only quarter a kilo".
The state government is selling Egyptian onions for Rs 45 a kilo at its farm fresh outlets. But the stock is too less, the daily consignments get sold in an hour.
"They are not quick in delivery when we order online. The quality isn't good as well," said Rani, a working professional.
The opposition DMK says the onion price hike is an indication of how things will be like with the new farm laws in place, which it opposed and the ruling AIADMK had supported in the parliament.