Panaji, Jul 22: The Goa Congress today alleged that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was behind “changing” the FDA report that had earlier “confirmed” the presence of high levels of formalin in fish imported to the coastal state, reports PTI.
“I strongly feel that the chief minister is involved in changing the (FDA) report. He has taken control of the FDA,” GPCC head Girish Chodankar told reporters in Panaji, alleging that Parrikar and Sardesai were in cahoots with the fish mafia and got the FDA tests results changed to save the mafia from criminal prosecution as well as financial damages, reports PTI.
The 17 impounded fish trucks were declared “safe” and released for sale.
He also alleged that the chief minister was acting “at the behest of the ruling BJP’s alliance partner the Goa Forward Party (GFP) which is close to the people indulged in the wholesale fish trade”, reports PTI.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) had initially confirmed the presence of formalin, a preservative that causes cancer, in fish, but later withdrawn its own findings.
After a hue and cry over the issue, the state government last week banned import of fish from other states till end of this month.
The Congress has been stalling the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly over the formalin issue since last two days. The Assembly proceedings were also interrupted on Monday.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Girish Chodankar demanded that import of fish be banned completely, saying the state can harvest fish locally and that the people should not be compelled to consume “chemically-poisoned fish”.
Chodankar said Parrikar’s “silence” on the investigation into “fish mafia” is an act to save his government from being toppled by the alliance partner.
He alleged that the chief minister has lost his grip over the state Cabinet and had “surrendered” to the demands of the GFP president and agriculture minister Vijai Sardesai.
“Be it on the issue of regional plan 2021 or outline development plan or formalin fish or fish mafia, Parrikar wants to ensure that his chair is safe and for that he has compromised on interest of the people,” Chodankar alleged.
He demanded that the government impose certain restrictions on export of fish.
“Only those varieties of fish that are not consumed locally be allowed to be exported,” Chodankar demanded.
Responding to a query on whether the CM’s health prevented him from taking strict action on such important issues, Chodankar replied in affirmative.
“That is true. I had advised the chief minister to take a break as he is not in position to handle pressure. Parrikar is not just an administrative head but also a political head. It seems that after his return from US (where he had gone for medical treatment), the CM is ignoring the issues which are against the public interest,” he claimed.