Patna: With onions selling at Rs 100 to 110 per kg in Bihar’s capital Patna, the economically marginalised sections are bearing the brunt of the soaring onion prices.
Hari Manjhi and Lokesh Yadav, both rickshaw pullers, are fond of eating Sattu (finely ground roasted gram powder) with raw onions at lunch. But with the roadside sattu stalls stopping to serve onion these days, they are deprived of this traditional food item.
“What can we do, we have no option but to consume Sattu without onion. Since onions are now selling costlier than apple, they are missing from our plate,” Manjhi, who is a resident of Arwal district, said.
Yadav backed Manjhi saying that, “The rich and middle class people are somehow managing with costly onions but the poor like us are no more consuming it. There are hundreds of rickshaw pullers her, who consume sattu as it is cheaper.”
Meanwhile, roadside sattu sellers have resorted to providing white radish and green chilli along with sattu to replace onions. “We have been forced to remove onions from our menu of sattu because we cannot afford it. Onions are selling at high prices like never before," said Parvati Devi, who has a roadside sattu stall near Patna’s Gandhi Maidan. Restaurants and roadside vendors which sell cooked food are also facing the heat as they are forced to reduce the use of onions in their preparations and have stopped serving onions in salad.
Not only daily wage workers or rickshaw pullers or sattu sellers, the rising onion prices are affecting several other businesses. What has gone unreported so far is that butchers and shopkeepers who sell chicken, mutton and beef are also suffering from sleepless nights, as the sky-rocketing onion prices have badly hit sales. They claimed that their daily sale has fallen by 25-30% due to onion price touching Rs 100 kg in the retail markets.
Also read: Households Feel the Pinch as Onion, Vegetable Prices Soar in Bihar
“There is less demand and sale of chicken for last few days due to rising price of onions,” Munna Alam, a chicken shop owner who deals in retail and wholesale in Phulwarisharif locality told NewsClick. He is one of dozens of chicken shop owners, who revealed that the demand for chicken has visibly fallen in less than two weeks.
Another shopkeeper, Md Hayat, who has his shop near Patna Railway station, said that even those who are still buying chicken are buying lesser quantity as onions are necessary to cook chicken.
Even shopkeepers of licensed slaughter houses of oxen and buffaloes in Phulwari Sharif admitted that soaring onion prices have affected their sales.
Onion traders in Patna and other towns in the state said that even though common people have been forced to cut down on using onions, but due to the marriage season, the demand of onions remained moderate if not high in the wholesale market.
Some onion traders fear that the onion price may cross Rs 120 per kg in the coming days due to the high demand during the marriage season amid low supply from outside the state. “Onion was selling Rs 80 per kg till Monday and in the last five days, price of onions rose to Rs 100-110,” an onion trader, Rajesh Kumar, said.
People, angry over the rising onion prices, have also resorted to unique forms of showing their anguish. At different places across the state, onions were worshipped by some people and others offered onions as Bhog or Prasad to deities. Some even garlanded the deities with onions. Opposition parties, too, have staged protest and the targeted ruling NDA government for its failure to check hoarding and control the onion prices.
Also read: What is Behind Sky-High Onion Prices?
Last week, the Bihar state co-operative marketing union limited (Biscouman) discontinued sale of subsidised onions in Patna. It was selling onions at Rs 35 per kg at dozens of counters with long queues of customers. But at some counters, its employees were roughed up and harassed.
Meanwhile, Pappu Yadav of Jan Adhikar Party has been selling onions at Rs 30 per kg at few places in the state.
However, all these measures have failed to provide any relief to the people who are suffering from this ever worsening price rise.