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Bangladesh okays 3,950 MT Hilsa export ahead of Durga Puja, first shipment today

In what holds good news for the people of West Bengal ahead of the Durga Puja festivities, the Bangladesh government has given the go-ahead to the export of nearly 3,950 million tonnes (MT) of the Hilsa fish to India before October 30.

The neighbouring country had banned the export of Hilsa, which holds a special place in the Bengali kitchen, in 2012 and now issues special permissions to ship the fish to India.

The first consignment of 50 MT of the fish will reach India on Thursday, it is learnt.

The West Bengal government’s tough stance on the signing of the 2011 Teesta water-sharing agreement was seen as the cause of Bangladesh banning the fish export in 2012. Bangladesh, however, had cited the “low availability” of the fish as the reason behind the ban.

Recently, the exporters in the neighbouring country had written to the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh demanding that 60 days be given for the export of the fish in permissible quantity.

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Syed Anwar Maqsood, secretary, Fish Importers’ Association, said, “Though permission was given to export 2,900 MT Hilsa in September last year, only 1,300 MT could be shipped due to the lack of time. We had requested to give at least 60 days instead of the usual 20-30 days since such a large quantity cannot be exported in such a short span. If they are permitting 5,000 MT that we used to export in an entire season before the ban, then Bangladesh should actually lift the ban.”

“We will request Bangladesh to lift the ban. Just about 5,000 MT of Hilsa was exported to India every year (until 2012 when the Hilsha export was banned) contrary to the popular belief that all Hilsa is exported to India,” added Maqsood.

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The Hilsa catch is a major source of income for thousands of fishermen along the coastal areas and rivers on both sides of the border. The silvery, sleek fish known for its distinctive taste and aroma is found in the Bay of Bengal and adjoining rivers. The price of 1 kg of fish in the local market varies from Rs

1,400-1,600.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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