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Maha govt has woken up too late: Sena on aid to onion growers

A day after the Maharashtra government announced Rs 150 crore relief to onion farmers, BJP’s ruling ally Shiv Sena on Friday took a dig at the Devendra Fadnavis-led dispensation saying it has “woken up from slumber too late”.

The party said that although the decision to provide relief to onion farmers was good, the government needed to ensure that its implementation was done in a speedy manner.

It also alleged that the onion farmers were yet to get the financial aid that was promised to them under a similar scheme announced by the government in 2016.

The government on Thursday announced Rs 150 crore as relief to onion farmers. The decision by the state cabinet came amid reports about farmers selling freshly harvested onions at as low as Rs 1.50 a kg in Maharashtra, the top producer of the bulb in the country.

The financial relief consists of an ex-gratia payment at the rate of Rs 200 per quintal (with an upper limit of 200 quintal per onion farmer) for the kitchen staple sold between November 1 and December 15, 2018.

“Despite spending Rs 1,000 per quintal as input costs to grow onions, the farmers had to sell the kitchen staple at Rs 500 per quintal in the market. The prices further came down to Rs 100-105 per quintal, which is Rs 1-1.50 per kg,” the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

In September, the farmers had urged the government to take immediate steps to control the decline in onion prices. But their demands went unheeded, it alleged.

“Prices of onions had similarly dipped in 2016 and the government had then announced a relief of Rs 100 per quintal. However, there are allegations that the onion growers have not received the money so far. If that is true, the question that arises now is when will the farmers receive the aid of Rs 200,” it said.

“The government has woken up from slumber very late. Although the decision to provide relief to onion farmers is good, it sould ensure that money is disbursed on time,” the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.

Last month, a farmer from Nashik, Sanjay Sathe, had sent Rs 1,064, which he earned after selling 750 kg of his onion crop in a wholesale market, to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as a protest.

The farmer had said that his intention was to prompt the government to take some steps to ease the financial stress that farmers were suffering because of the low prices.

The PMO had later returned the farmer’s money order.

Another farmer from Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, Shreyas Abhale, had sent a money order of Rs 6 to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as a mark of protest against the crashing prices of onion and the paltry returns.

Abhale had said that after selling 2,657 kg onions at the rate of Rs 1 per kg at the Sangamner wholesale market in the district and adjusting market expenses, he was left with only Rs 6.

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