Finally, the 200 tonnes of imported Pakistani onions that lay rotting at a Mumbai port for lack of clearances are likely to get the necessary permits to reach the market today – but it took a media expose and intervention from the top authorities before this could happen.
Amid generally soaring food inflation, the price of onions – a staple in the common man's diet – had become a matter of particular concern. Usually quick to slam down on anything 'Pakistani', the government had in desperation allowed import of the pungent bulb from Pakistan.
Eight containers of onions from that country have been lying at the Jawarhalal Nehru Port for the last five days, waiting for the requisite clearances before they are dispatched to the wholesale market. But following media reports, the ministry of agriculture has intervened to expedite the clearances.
Last week, union minister of state for agriculture K V Thomas had promised to investigate the matter. "The newspaper cutting (of one of the articles) was taken to my assistant manager and I have asked him to look into the matter," he had said.
Now, he seems to have moved into action.
Pradeep Vaswani, an onion trader, told a Mumbai newspaper, "I've heard that the officials in charge of clearances received a call from the undersecretary of the ministry of agriculture.