Meghalaya’s formalin fish and Bengali cuisine- A sad tale of betrayal yet hope


By Our Reporter | Shillong, July 31, 2018

The controversy rallying over the formalin fish racket has affected thousands of people who are involved in the fish business. But there is a section of people who may be more affected by the entire "Formalin Fish" hullabaloo than others!

It is estimated that more than 10,000 people who are involved in the fish trade across the State either indirectly or directly have been affected in view of the decision of the Government to ban imported fishes from outside the State for 15 days. The Government banned the import of fish from outside the State on July 23 last.

WATCH: Here's why sale of fish imported from outside is banned in Northeast

Interestingly, the restaurants and hotels which serve Bengali food in Shillong have been badly affected by this ban of the Government. It is learnt that these shops are forced to stop fish items since they are not able to get fishes from the market.

The proprietor of Arun Hotel opposite MTC building, Ajit Ghosh said that they are trying to get fishes from Assam including locally produced fish to continue with the fish items in the hotel.

According to Ghosh, they are facing great difficulty to be able to meet the demands of fish items by the customers.

"Our business has seen a huge drop since our speciality is Bengali food," Ghosh said.

A representative of Suruchi Hotel, Pradeep Chowdhury said that they have stop cooking fish items in their hotel due to the unavailability of fish. He said that they only cook fish and mutton items in their hotel.

Chowdhury also said that there is a huge drop in their business since many of the customers who visit the hotels are ask for fish items while adding that they are trying to get locally produced fish but it was not available.


While talking to a section of reporters, president of Khasi Jaintia Wholesaler and Fish Sellers Association, Mitchell Wanniang said that there are large number of people who have has been affected in view of this ban.

"We have seen the emergence of many small time fish sellers in very localities especially in the Greater Shillong conglomeration. The fish business has manages to provide employment to many of the unemployed youth," he said.

According to him, many people are now eyeing the fish business since the investment required is not very huge.

He also observed that there are many single mothers are taking care of the needs of her family by way of fish selling.

When asked on the lost incurred due to this ban, Wanniang said that it would be around Rs 40 to Rs 50 lakh on a single day.

It may be mentioned Meghalaya is importing fishes from West Bengal, Assam, Kanpur, Lucknow and Andhra Pradesh to meet the growing demands of fish in the State. As per official reports, Meghalaya is facing a production deficit of 25,000 annually. The State is able to produce only about 6,000 metric tonnes annually.

While replying to a query on the much talked about Meghalaya Aquaculture Mission, he said that the association right from the very beginning has offered its support to this noble initiative of the Government

"We are ready to work with the Government if it is really serious to see the mission is successful. We are ready to promote the local produce fishes. We are also ready to stop import fishes from outside during the months when locally produced fishes is available in plenty," president of Khasi Jaintia Wholesaler and Fishes Seller Assocation said.

He however asserted that the association is ready to cooperate with the Government to ensure that fishes which are imported into the state are safe for human consumption.

Wanniang said that they were caught by surprise that this formalin fish racket has suddenly come up in the past few months.

He also said that they have immediately returned all the fishes which had been imported to the various companies after the test one of the fish in Nongpoh fish market confirms to be negative.