Onion prices in Tamil Nadu's capital city Chennai have doubled in a week. With onion supply in the city dwindling, a kilo of the vegetable now costs around Rs 75-80 across the city from last week's Rs 40-45. Shopkeepers have blamed Maharashtra's Nashik for dwindling supply. Nashik is the key hub from where Chennai procures a significant share of its onions. Onion prices across the country had shot up last month after the centre banned the vegetable's exports after increasing rain delayed harvests.
"Our suppliers say they don't get supply. Many onion consignments had also perished during the recent week long rain in south India," Vijay Kumar, who owns a shop at Tiruvanmayur, told NDTV.
For many, this means a hard compromise in the food habits of many citizens.
"Every day I used to buy just two onions from the vegetable shop nearby, today I took only one. We've to cut consumption and use less onion in our food. That's the only way," says Shakila, a mother of two who works as a domestic help.
"I use onions in almost everything. Now I look at things I can prepare without using onions. Onions have many health benefits. Now that gets affected," said Sangeetha an energy healer who usually buys 2 kg of onions every week, but has to now make do with only one kg.
"We'd be happy if the extra money we pay goes to farmers directly. But the fact is during crisis like this it is the middlemen and traders who make huge profits and not farmers," said Hariharan, an IT professional.
DMK chief MK Stalin has sought urgent intervention by the state government.
"The government ought to ensure easy availability of onion and there is no price rise. Onion price hike would cause severe hardship for common people," he tweeted.
One step the state government has taken so far includes sending a team to Nashik to procure onions to be sold at the state-owned Farm Fresh outlets. A statement issued by the state government however does not specify what price the government intends to sell onions for. Another step the government says is a plan to crack down on hoarders.
"Instructions have been given to authorities to take action against retailers who have stock above 10 tonnes and wholesalers who have stock above 50 tonnes besides those outlets who sell at a high price," the statement said.