POST TIME: 17 November, 2019 12:13:51 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 17 November, 2019 04:05:15 PM
Rotten onions in canal while price skyrockets
Prices now Tk 250 to Tk 260 a kg; air shipment from Egypt arrives on Tuesday

Rotten onions in canal while price skyrockets

Rotten onions in big volume get dumped in the Chaktai canal of Khatunganj along the Karnafuli river in Chattogram yesterday. Locals said a large number of rotten onions, which had been stored by wholesalers who tried to cash in on the high demand for the common kitchen item, are being dumped there almost every day. Inset, rotten onions as stored by stockers at Khatunganj. Focus bangla photo

As the price of onion skyrocketed in the kitchen markets and was being sold at Tk. 250–Tk. 260 yesterday (Saturday), a huge amount of rotten onions were found dumped in the Chaktai canal of Khatunganj in Chattogram city. Locals said almost every day a large number of rotten onions were being dumped here. These had been stored by wholesalers who tried to cash in on the high demand for the common kitchen item, they alleged. They said the onions had been imported from Myanmar. The dumped onions were already rotten when these entered Bangladesh. Besides, the onions decomposed more after being stored in warehouses. According to local sources, at least 15 to 16 tons of rotten onions were dumped in the Chaktai canal adjacent to the Karnaphuli river.
Md Idris, general secretary of the traders' association of Habibullah Market in Khatunganj, said the onion turns rotten while being carried by trucks, and these start to decompose in warehouses.

Abdus Samad, executive magistrate of the Chattogram district administration, told The Independent that they have heard about rotten onions being dumped in the canal.

“We have heard about it through different media outlets, but we have not seen it. We are looking into the matter,” he said.

However, onion prices kept breaking records, with each kilo having a price tag of as high as Tk. 250–260 in some places yesterday, triggering outrage among consumers.  

In different kitchen market in the capital, the local variety of onions was being sold at Tk. 250–260 per kilo yesterday. On an average, the price of each kilo of onion was Tk. 230–250 in most of the kitchen markets.

Many customers believe that a section of unscrupulous traders are taking advantage of lax monitoring by the government and pushing up the prices of this key cooking ingredient.

However, the air cargo carrying the first shipment of onions from Egypt is expected to arrive in Dhaka on Tuesday.

The S Alam Group is importing huge quantities of onions in its first shipment as the country is facing an acute onion crisis.

To reign in prices, the government on Friday decided to import onion from Turkey by air on an emergency basis.

Apart from the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, some private organisations have already completed all necessary formalities for importing the key cooking ingredient from onion-producing countries, including Afghanistan and the UAE, through air cargo on an emergency basis.

The government has fined several traders who sold onions at higher prices across the country yesterday (Saturday).

The government started a drive against stockpiling of onions in wholesale markets in different parts of the country, including Khatunganj in Chattogram and Shaympur in Dhaka, to control onion prices in retail markets.

This step has been taken in the wake of a sudden rise in onion prices following a ban imposed on onion exports by the Indian government to control its own domestic market prices.

However, mobile courts fined onion traders for charging high prices from consumers in Jaypurhat, Chuadanga, Cumilla, Narayanganj and Barishal district yesterday.

In Jaypurhat, a mobile court of Jaypurhat fined six onion traders Tk. 1,000 each. The drive was conducted by the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) Milton Chandra Ray. He said they conducted the drive on the basis of allegations in Pouro Bazar and Natunhat area and fined them for charging extra.

In Cumilla, two onion traders were fined up to Tk. 35,000 for selling onion at high prices in Muradnagar Upazila in Cumilla yesterday (Saturday).

In a mobile court, executive magistrate Saiful Islam Komol fined them and said the drive was conducted to control onion prices.

In Narayanganj, three onion traders were fined up to Tk. 12,000 in Narayanganj district for not keeping the list of prices by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

The drive was led by executive magistrate Sultana Nasrin and Farjana Akhter.

In Chuadanga, two onion traders were fined Tk. 30,000 for selling onion at high prices in the wholesale and retail markets of Chuadanaga Sadar. The drive was conducted by executive magistrate Sabbir Ahmed and Amjad Hossain.

During this time, the executive magistrate and some journalists came under attack from some onion traders.

Abu Jihad Fakhrul Alam Khan, officer-in-charge (OC) of Chuadanaga Sadar Police station, said some police personnel were sent to control the situation. “We will take steps against them after investigation,” he said.

In Barishal, two onion traders were fined Tk. 15,000 for not keeping the TCB list in Barishal Sadar. The mobile court was conducted by Rasel Iqbal, executive magistrate of the district administration. He said: “We conducted the drive to control onion prices, and it will continue.”