Some traders are now facing allegations of hawala transactions and links with Dubai.
Following a meeting between the Nashik district administration, onion traders and officials of some of the agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) – including Lasalgaon and Chandwad – some of the APMCs in Nashik on Monday commenced onion auction after a gap of nearly five days. On Sunday, the district administration had asked onion traders to start auction from Monday at the major APMCs of Nashik and had warned that if the traders do not start the auction at Lasalgaon, Pimpalgaon Baswant, Umarane, Yeola and others, their permits would be cancelled. Notices in this connection were also served to the traders. The Income Tax (I-T) department had recently searched 25 premises of seven major onion traders at Lasalgaon and surrounding areas in Nashik, one of the largest onion markets in the country. Subsequently, the traders attached to various APMCs stopped onion auction as a mark of protest, causing problems to the growers and leading to a price decline. Significantly, the Centre has also asked the district administration to send a detailed report on the matter. Last month, the auction (wholesale) prices of onions touched Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,700 per quintal but later the rates came down by about Rs 600 to Rs 700 per quintal.
On Monday, markets reopened at Vinchur, Yeola, Pimpalgaon, Manmadm Niphad and Umrana amidst an atmosphere of confusion, senior officials of the Lasalgaon Market Committee said. Lasalgaon APMC did not operate on Monday because onions in storage were damaged in the heavy rainfall, the official said. Jaydutta Holkar, chairman of Laslagaon APMC, said that the prices were on the lower side trading at Rs 1,200-1,300 per quintal because both farmers and traders were still uneasy. Rates should become normal when the trading resumes. However, market experts say that an atmosphere of uncertainty prevails over the onion markets in Nashik. Moreover, after accusations of hoarding and black-marketing, allegations of hawala transactions and links with Dubai have now emerged and continue to sting the prominent onion traders. The I-T department, which raided seven big traders in Nashik, is reported to have evidence of their involvement in hawala transaction with Dubai connections. Some of the senior officials of the Lasalgaon APMC said that the Enforcement Directorate is now investigating some of the cases.