Monsoon clouds hang heavy overhead, but where is the ‘Silver Queen of the River’?
Every year, as the rains set in, Bengalis bid goodbye to one of their delights only to ring in another.
Himsagar mangoes make their last appearance in the markets, and hilsa their first. But, just as the last year, this year, too, is all set to be a big disappointment for the hilsa loving connoisseurs of the city as there is no sign of the ban on exports from Bangladesh being lifted in the near future.
“We had a meeting with the state minister for fisheries about a month ago. But nothing has happened till date,” said SA Maqsood, secretary of the Hilsa Importers’ Association.
Bangladesh imposed a ban on exports of hilsa to India in August 2012. Before the ban was imposed, until end-July 2012, Indian importers could only manage to import 40-50 tons of fish daily. The crisis began once the sanction was imposed. Parallely, the hilsa catch from Bengal’s rivers fell from 50,000 tons to 16,000 tons between 2011 and 2012.
“We want to take a delegation to Bangladesh so that we can explain the situation. We told this to the minister and requested him to get the Centre’s permission for the visit,” Maqsood said.
Sources at the fisheries department said minister Chandranath Singha had already written to the Centre seeking permission. “We’re waiting for a response from the Centre,” a fisheries department official said.