Durga Puja gift from Bangladesh: Padma Hilsa!
Subhasish Mitra (Wide Angle)
From the Padma, straight to the platter. The mouthwatering Hilsa is coming to West Bengal before Durga Puja. What a fantastic puja gift!
The Government of Bangladesh has officially allowed Hilsa fish to be exported to India, and it has started making its way to the country via Indian fish traders. Up to 3,950 metric tons of Hilsa can be imported from Bangladesh by Indian fish traders.
The Bangladesh Government gave the permission following requests from the Fish Importers Association to import Hilsa fish during Durga Puja. Imports of Hilsa will be allowed until October 30, by when Durga Puja festival will end.
The Hilsa can be imported in two or three phases per week and can total up to 25 separate phases by October 30.
West Bengal will receive a major chunk of the Hilsa imports while the rest will be spread across the country.
The Bangladesh government has allowed traders to sell nearly 4,000 metric tons of Hilsa fish to India ahead of the festive Durga Puja season.
The Hilsa from Bangladesh's Padma and Meghna rivers and from Chandpur where the two rivers meet has long been prized by Hilsa connoisseurs as among the tastiest of fishes.
Dhaka's Chief Controller of Imports and Exports issued licences to 79 exporters who would be able to export 50 metric tons of Hilsa each.
"India is our closest neighbour. As in previous years, Bangladesh will open up export of Hilsa to India ahead of the Durga Puja," newspapers reported, quoting the neighbouring country's diplomats posted in Kolkata.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken an initiative a few years ago to allow exports of Hilsa ahead of the Durga Puja on a request by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as part of what is now referred to as 'Hilsa diplomacy'.
While most of the prized Hilsa from Bangladesh will be consumed by markets in West Bengal, significant quantities will also be sold in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai for fish lovers there.
Officials said all exports will have to be completed by October 30 as fishing for Hilsa is paused for some time to allow the fish to breed.
The first consignment of around 45 metric tonnes of Hilsa fish reached West Bengal from Bangladesh on September 21 when nine trucks carrying the silver crop of water entered the state through the Petrapole border in North 24 Parganas district.
The consignment was soon sent to various markets across the state such as Kolkata, Siliguri and Murshidabad.
The news of the arrival of the silver crop was greeted by fishermen's bodies and restaurant owners.