Agartala: A Bengali main course on the day of Pohela Boishakh is incomplete sans Hilsa, widely known as Ilish in the local market, and the most popular dish for the day is arguably the iconic “Sorshe Ilish”. But the skyrocketing prices of the fish kept it beyond the reach of commoners.
In order to solve the problem and make the fish available at a very affordable rate, the Fisheries Department of Tripura has taken the initiative to ration the fish through a state-owned cooperative body in 15 counters across the state on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh.
Normally the prices of the fish range between Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,800 for a fish weighing above one Kg. In the special counters, fish of that weight will be available for Rs 1,070. For fish that weigh between 800 grams to 1 kg, the price is Rs 870 per Kg and the lowest size, which is above 500 grams, is available for Rs 770 per kg. The difference between the prices in special counters and the normal market is above Rs 500.
Speaking on the issue, Tripura Fisheries Minister Sudhangshu Das said, “We all know how close Hilsa is to the hearts of Bengali people. But, for the last couple of years, the rising prices of raw fish have made it inaccessible for many. We thought the joy of the New Year should not be confined to a certain section of society alone. This is why this initiative has been undertaken. Our main counter under Tripura Apex Fisheries Cooperative society limited has been opened at Maharajganj Bazar in Agartala. A total of 15 such counters will also be opened in different parts of the state where this particular fish will be available at subsidized prices,”
Even though Tripura shares a long border with Bangladesh and trade relations between both regions are very strong, Bangladesh has restricted the import of Hilsa through Tripura which is considered to be one of the key reasons behind the exorbitant hike in the prices of the fish.
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On being contacted, noted Hilsa dealer of Agartala market Bhabananda Das said, “Bangladesh does not permit Hilsa to be imported through Tripura borders. The local trade bodies have raised the demand before the state government and so far we know the state government has also exchanged letters with the government of India to get a clearance for the Hilsa trade. In absence of a direct trade link, we are forced to source the fish from Kolkata where the fish is transported legally. The transportation cost of the fish is higher than any other fish in the local markets.”
Das also informed EastMojo that every year on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami during Durga Puja, Bangladesh allows Hilsa-laden cargoes to enter Tripura directly as a token of love and affection with the region. The last year 2000 kgs of Hilsa was sent to Tripura during Durga Puja. However, on Bengali New Year, Tripura stays dependent on Bengal.
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