Fish loving Bengalis are being deprived of getting the prized Bangladeshi hilsas for their table owing to the disputes over Teesta water distribution between India and the neighbouring country

While replying to a question raised by Mrs Rohima Mondal, Trinamul Congress MLA of Deganga constituency in North 24-Parganas during Question Hour, the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee said in the state legislative assembly today, “Bangladesh has stopped exporting hilsas to our country as they are not getting water of the Teesta. Fish-loving Bengalis are being deprived of eating the prized fish of the neighbouring country. We have a good relation with Bangladesh because it’s our neighbour as well as friend.”

Miss Banerjee said: “We are exploring how to breed Bangladeshi hilsa fish in some canals that have direct connections with the river Padma of Bangladesh.”

“We have already set up hilsa research centre at Diamond Harbour in South 24- Parganas district where fisheries experts have started work on how to breed the fish. A day will come when hilsas produced in Bengal will be exported outside India,” the chief minister said.

Bengal lags behind several other states like Andhra Pradesh, Chattishgarh etc in producing adequate quantity of fish as per demand of Bengalis, Miss Banerjee said adding, “We import fish from AP, Chattishgarh etc to meet the demand in Bengal.”

“We will produce sufficient quantity of fish in our state. A project has already been taken up at Moyna in East Midnapore to breed big fish. We cough up huge amount of money regularly as transport cost to bring fish from other states. This additional expenditure will also be saved if we can produce fish adequately in our state,” she added.

The Bangladesh government banned the export of hilsa to India during 2012 virtually depriving the Bengalis of the taste of the fish during festivals like Jamai Sasthi or Durga puja.

Different hilsa fish importers’ associations have also written letters to the Centre and Bangladesh government requesting their interventions to lift the ban on Bangladeshi hilsa export. Miss Banerjee has also discussed the issue with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in several meetings with the latter