Hilsa, that mouth-watering delicacy over which a Bengali drools no matter which corner of the world he is in, occupied centre-stage at a rather serious discussion that was organised between the city’s exporters and the Union Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher.

Even as the audience was told that only a quarter of an hour would be available for the interaction and the issue was flagged high up among the points of discussion, it was the first question that was allowed to be taken up at the meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

However, Mr. Kher did not hold out any hope before the gathering, saying that Bangladesh has banned exports of Hilsa and government officials have said that there is paucity of the premium item even for Bangladeshis.

A representative of the Fish Importers Association said the ban was clamped all of a sudden and has not been relaxed despite repeated efforts by the importers here and their counterparts across the border. Annually around 5000 tons of the silvery delicacy was imported by India and the sudden clamp-down has not only robbed Bengalis of a gastronomic indulgence but have also financially affected people connected with the trade.

However, it may be mentioned that the item is not in abundant supply in Dhaka either and a visiting correspondent was left as high and dry as any on this side of the border.

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