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Imported fish scam: "It is possible that illegal goods are smuggled through fishes," Parimal Suklabaidya

The fish that we probably eat everyday has been making headlines for the last few days in Cachar and Barak Valley region. There are multiple allegations that the imported fish sold in the markets of Assam contain illegal extracts. An association dealing with Pisciculture went on to allege that imported fish popularly categorized as “Chalani Mach” contain oil secreted from beef.

Such allegations did not get verified by any official authority, however, it is certain that there are irregularities in the fishery business carried across the state especially in South Assam.

To trade in fishes from other countries, the business owners must procure adequate permissions. To do so, they need special licenses. But what the local fishermen and traders have been complaining about is that a variety of fishes are imported illegally from Bangladesh and sold at a cheap rate in Barak Valley denting their opportunity.

“There are serious allegations and I am talking to all the deputy commissioners in Barak Valley,” said Minister of Fisheries, Government of Assam, Parimal Suklabaidya. The minister added with astonishment, “How is it possible that imported fishes are sold so cheaply?”

Mrigel (Meerga), a common fish is sold at around Rs 250 per kilogram in Barak Valley. The same fish imported illegally from Bangladesh is available in the market for Rs 100, Rs 120 per kilogram. The local fishermen and investors who have invested in pisciculture incur huge losses because of this cheaply available alternative. They do not get the rate they expect.

“We have discussed the issue with our counterparts in Bangladesh. We found that the fishes allegedly imported from Bangladesh are sold at a higher price in Bangladesh than in India. It is possible that they smuggle in illegal items hiding inside the fish. What if there is a packet of the illegal or banned items inside the fish’s stomach? In that case, the fish is simply a carrier, and therefore they can afford to sell it so cheap,” said the Minister.

He assured that he is in discussion with the law enforcement agencies and will soon unearth the scandal if there is any.

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