Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Wednesday announced a half-day work for government employees on June 19, Tuesday. All the government people have to work till 2 pm June 19.
Parents-in-law gearing up to treat their sons-inlaw to a sumptuous spread of mustard Hilsa and other Hilsa recipes for Jamai Sashthi on June 18 may find it heavy on the pocket. The hike in diesel prices is set to push up retail price of the favourite fish of Bengalis by Rs 80 to Rs 100 a kilogram.
The peak Hilsa season starts from mid-June, just a few days before jamai sashthi. That’s when fishing trawlers which venture out on trips return to shore with their catch. Each short trip needs 800 litres of diesel, while long trips require 1,600 litres. Around this time last year, say fishermen, diesel cost stood at Rs 58 a litre.
Thus, the jump to over Rs 71 alitre has raised the fuel cost for a short trip by Rs 10,400 and twice for a long one. After each trip, trawlers return with a catch of 1.5 quintals to 2 quintals of Hilsa along with other fish. This alone, say fishermen, will push up the wholesale price of Hilsa by at least Rs 52 a kilogram. This Hilsa then has to be transported to Kolkata markets. This cost will rise as well, courtesy the sky-rocketing diesel prices.
Those in the Hilsa trade, from fishermen to retailers, say that all this will push up the retail price of Hilsa by at least Rs 80 a kilogram. Fishermen say, around mid-June last year, the wholesale price of the fish weighing between 500 grams to 600 grams ranged from Rs 500 to Rs 600 a kilogram and the larger variety of Hilsa weighing between 800 grams to 900 grams was priced between Rs 800 to Rs 900 a kilogram. The retail prices ranged from Rs 800 to Rs 900 akilogram for the smaller Hilsa weighing 500 grams to 600 grams and Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,200 a kilogram for the larger variety.
West Bengal Fishermen’s Association secretary Bijon Maity said, “The hike of Rs 13 per litre of diesel will have a spiralling effect on the retail price of Hilsa.”