The Goa Congress Sunday said it would seek an appointment with ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to apprise him of how BJP leaders and state bureaucrats were taking “advantage” of his absence from office.
Congress’ Goa unit spokesperson Swati Kerkar said the chief minister’s office and the BJP have been claiming that Parrikar’s health was improving but appointments sought by her party had been denied on health grounds.
The Opposition party leaders have a right to meet the CM. Why are we being denied an audience with the CM of the State. If the CM can supposedly chair a meeting of the Investment Promotion Board via video conferencing, why can’t he meet a couple of Opposition leaders. For the last two months, the CM has not met any Opposition leader, the Congress said.
Parrikar is suffering from a pancreatic ailment and is currently being treated at his residence here after returning to the state on October 14 from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“We want to bring to the Chief Minister’s notice how his office and the party are taking undue advantage of his absence to threaten staffers whose family members are associated with the Congress,” Kerkar said.
She alleged that the state administration had “collapsed” and bureaucrats were taking advantage of the situation as there was “no one” to hold them accountable.
“Today, if the Chief Ministers health is improving and he is clearing files and chairing meetings through video-conferencing, then the Congress delegation should be allowed to meet him,” Kerkar said.
Former Congress’ Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte, who joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this week, on Sunday announced that the saffron party has promised and guaranteed him a Cabinet berth next month and until then he has been assured of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) chairmanship, reports The Herald.
The BJP in Goa is likely to have a Cabinet rejig after Diwali and portfolios are expected to be reallocated, sources said.
Addressing around 500 supporters at a meeting in Mandrem constituency, Sopte said that BJP has assured him of getting support from former MLA Laxmikant Parsekar and the alliance partners- MGP and Goa Forward Party.
“They promised me that they would convince Parsekar to support me so that we could work together,” Sopte is reported to have told his supporters.
“I joined BJP only for development of the constituency and to ensure jobs to my people,” he said.
He said that during his meeting with BJP state leaders and Amit Shah he demanded jobs for the people, development, ministry and support from BJP workers and Parsekar.
“The Party leadership has promised me a ministry next month and till then I will be appointed as GTDC Chairman,” he said.
Former Goa CM Parsekar has already expressed his anguish over the party’s decision to induct his arch rival Sopte and has announced to work against Sopte in the coming by-election.
Meanwhile, Sopte said that despite being in the Congress he had a cordial relationship with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP Ministers and MLAs.
“That is the reason that irrespective of the fact that I was in Opposition, Government gave Rs 32 crore to my constituency for developmental works in 18 months,” Sopte said.
Lashing out at the Congress, Sopte said that despite emerging as single largest party Congress failed to form Government only because they could not finalise their leader.
“After that, we got three different opportunities to form government but even after that we failed. Only because there was more than one leader,” he said.
Sopte recalled how the then Congress MLA and current BJP Minister Vishwajit Rane had asked him to quit the party along with him soon after Assembly election results in 2017. “But then, I did not wanted to betray the people, who had voted for me,” he said.
August 3, 2018:IndiaScoops.com has learnt that except for a show cause notice by the GIDC, no action has been taken against BJP Gen Secretary Vasudev Parab for illegally renting out his premises to a huge international cartel of drug manufacturers, from whom 100 kgs of ketamine also known as the date-rape drug was seized by the DRI in June this year.
If it were any other citizen, either Goan or outsider, he would have been behind bars immediately under the very stringent provisions of the NDPS Act, which clearly stipulates that even landlords who rent out their premises to organised drug syndicates or cartels are liable for prosecution.
The fact that the BJP State government and the DRI ruled by BJP bigwigs in Delhi have ‘protected and shielded’ Parab from prosecution is crystal clear, says a senior Goa-based advocate and social activist.
And in this case the premises were rented out illegally – there was no written agreement, in spite of the fact that the owner was pocketing over Rs 75,000 per month as rent for the premises, which could not be sublet in the first place.
That the DRI and the BJP-led Goa Government has let off their “own man” Vasudev Parab and even given him a clean chit, clearly exhibits favoritism and an indirect ‘protection’ accorded to the drug mafia. Rajya Sabha MP and BJP Goa State President Vinay Tendulkar went out of his way to defend Parab and called a press conference to state that Parab was innocent.
According to an IANSreport, after the DRI revealed a ketamine manufacturing factory operating in North Goa, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday told the state legislative assembly that drugs were “only being stored” in the facility .
So Mr Parrikar is storing 100 Kgs of the deadly and illegal ketamine not a crime? Doesn’t the NDPS Act stipulates that the owners of the premises are also liable for prosecution under various provisions?
Four days ago, Curtorim Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco told the State Legislative Assembly that narcotics are being produced within the state, while no action is taken against them by the police (Read Here).
“The level of policing in Goa has stooped so low that people in the State have started growing drugs in the fields.” Lourenco alleged.
He said, “Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was strict during his earlier tenure but now he was gone little weak,” said Lourenco. Parrikar was present in the House when he spoke.
“Why no action is taken on the drugs. Are we not serious of this issue? Why not wage a war on drugs? Is there any connivance between politicians, police and drug mafia? Why are we not able to do it seriously? Something is wrong somewhere,” he added.
Lourenco referred to the recent raid by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on a factory owned by a top BJP party functionary Vasudev Parab where Ketamine was being manufactured.
While the Congress legislator named the party, Speaker Pramod Sawant expunged his words claiming that “you cannot name a person who is not present in the House to defend himself.”
The crackdown, one of the biggest this year, ended with the arrests of 10 men, including two UK nationals and one from Vietnam, and seizure of 308 kg of Ketamine, 250 kg of raw material needed to make the drug and other drugs valued at ₹35-38 crore.
Parrikar, who was accused by Opposition members during Question Hour today for not doing enough to rein in the drug menace, also said that the state government has not been officially intimated by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) agency about the details of the Goa raid.
“When the matter involves multiple-states, the state agency is not the agency to investigate, it is being carried out by DRI who are the authorized agency in such matters
” ..whether it is being manufactured here we don’t know. According to my information it was only being stored here,” Parrikar said in response to a question from Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro .
So the Goa CM in his own admission does not know if the ketamine was manufactured in Goa or only stored there. Parrikar should read the ‘Remand Applications’ of the DRI while seeking further custody of the accused.
The ‘remand applications’ submitted by the DRI to the concerned courts, clearly state that the persons arrested in Goa were manufacturing or processing and purifying the ketamine on the rented premises in Goa.
Not just the remand applications, even press reports, if Parrikar has even bothered to read them, clearly stated that ketamine was manufactured at Vasudev Parab’s shed.
According to a Times of India report dated June 14, 2018:
Those arrested in Goa were UK nationals Jonathan Thorn and Barry Bracken; Nguyen Cuong, a qualified chemist from Vietnam; and Sarpreet Singh, who ran a unit where ketamine was allegedly being prepared. Thorn and Bracken are believed to have set up a small unit in the UK where ketamine was being prepared from slurry (one stage before pure ketamine is derived), and Thorn ran a supply racket in South Africa, an official said.
Bracken ran a processing unit in his house in Goa, while Thorn supervised Singh’s factory, said officials. The plot on which the factory in Goa was set up belongs to BJP leader Vijay Parab.
Nearly, 100 kg of ketamine and raw material used to manufacture the drug was found at Goa BJP office bearer Vasudev Parab’s industrial unit during DRI raid, which was used by NRI Jimi Sandhu to manufacture ketamine, claims an IANS report.
To another question by Congress MlA Pratapsing Rane, about the action the state government was contemplating over the issue, Parrikar said: “I have written to DRI. It is an international racket. The state government cannot do anything… I have already told very clearly it is a central government agency’s inquiry, I cannot interfere in it…” .
So the State government cannot do anything, not even take action against the illegal lease? Stop bluffing the people of Goa, Mr Parrikar!
Pleading that the debate on banned drugs should not be generalized, the CM said that when the police asked schools in Goa for specific inputs about the drug menace, the response was not enthusiastic.
Earlier, Faleiro blamed the Home Ministry for letting drugs proliferate in the coastal state, known for tourism.
“…it is a reality we are not only manufacturing drugs for Goa, we are manufacturing drugs for the international market. It is happening under our nose, in front of police stations, in our industrial estates, in the tourist locales like Calangute and other places,” the Congress MLA said.
When Curtorim Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco on Tuesday walked into the Goa Assembly with three eggs in a packet (Read Here) and held it up on the House floor as evidence that “plastic eggs” were being sold in the market, he left many legislators shocked. Others were subtly amused.
As he demanded a thorough probe, CM Manohar Parrikar kept repeating, “there cannot be a plastic egg”. Parrikar quickly sent the eggs Lourenco had brought into the Assembly to the Goa FDA for testing which gave a negative report within hours.
For at least 3 weeks now, several videos have been doing the rounds on social media detailing the presence of ‘plastic eggs’ in Goan markets. But Goa CM Parrikar insisted on the floor of the house, that he being an engineer and science graduate could say for sure that there is nothing like a ‘plastic egg’. So Mr Parrikar, are all the videos on social media fake?
The appearance of artificial eggs or ‘plastic eggs’ in stores and supermarkets in different parts of Kerala, West Bengal and now Goa and Maharashtra since the last few years, has left residents infuriated.
Even as many markets in India face a backlash against Chinese goods after a viscous social media campaign, there’s another Chinese product that is making people fume. Eggs, claimed a two-year-old (October 13, 2016) article in India Today.
Consumers have reported that the shells of these ‘plastic eggs’ are hard to crack and an omelette made using these is hard and rubbery. These artificial eggs do not rot even after many days on the shelves, and have no smell, unlike ‘real eggs’, states the India Todayreport.
When the issue surfaced in Kerala two years ago, State Health Minister, K K Shylaja had said probe would be launched to find the truth about the mystery eggs. However, health officials did not stop the sale of the eggs in Kerala.
According to India Today, artificial eggs have become especially prevalent in Kerala, an Indian state located on the country’s southwest coast. The eggs have reportedly been popping up in big stores and even supermarkets, with some consumers mistakenly purchasing the fakes before complaining about the subtle differences: shells that are hard to crack and contents that become rubbery when cooked.
While this was reported two years ago, the same story keeps popping up time and again. Whenever there is a public outcry, the ‘plastic eggs’ disappear, only to resurface after a few months, after the media attention dies down.
One consumer bought eggs which he thought were normal, but was quoted as saying they were extremely hard to crack and that the contents turned rubbery on being put on the stove, according to a Gulf News report.
Distributors on the other hand say that the consignment has come from Tamil Nadu but the exact origin of the eggs is yet to be traced.
After the news hit the headlines, many people contacted television channels to give their own experiences, while others put up videos of the eggs being cooked, on social media.
Minister K K Shailaja had announced a probe into the situation in Kerala. “I will now ask the Food Safety Commissioner to seriously look into these media reports that such a product is available,” Sakshi Post had quoted Shylaja as saying.
“It would be nice if someone comes up and provides a sample of it so the tests can be conducted quickly.” We do not know if a probe was really conducted and if it was, then what were the results. The matter died a natural death.
According to an ANIreport dated April 4th, 2017, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked whether there are any plastic eggs as such or is it a hoax. The subject cropped up after a man was arrested on April 1 for selling ‘artificial eggs’ containing plastic-like material from Kolkata’s Park Circus area.
On the basis of a complaint made by a consumer, Mohammed Shamim Ansari was arrested, after ‘plastic eggs’ were recovered from his possession.
However, in his defence Shamim claimed that the eggs were of duck and if kept in the refrigerator for a day and then consumed, they become like plastic.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) ordered an investigation into the same. It was found that a few fake ‘plastic eggs’ had permeated into the Kolkata markets.
In April last year, Bangalore Mirror also reported about the presence of ‘plastic eggs’, but no conclusive evidence was available.
Terming reports about “plastic” rice and “synthetic” eggs available in the market as “mere rumours,” Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader said no such case has been reported so far, says another article in the Bangalore Mirror dated June 12, 2017.
“People need not panic on hearing such baseless reports.. Some vested interests are spreading rumours apparently to defame the Anna Bhagya scheme, which was being successfully implemented,” Khader told reporters, but at the same time said he had ordered a probe into the matter.
with inputs from India Today, Bangalore Mirror, etc
Fatorda: July 24: According to information received by IndiaScoops.comvia email, Fatorda-based Goa fish mafia kingpin Maulana Ibrahim actively campaigned for the Goa Forward Party during the 2017 Assembly elections and was part of the election core team of the GFP. He also funded the election expenses of the GFP in cash to a large extent, during the cash crunch caused due to demonetization.
We tried to contact Maulana Ibrahim for his comments but he was not reachable. We welcome him to contact us and give us his clarification on this post. We will update this post as and when we receive any further inputs.
A reader has also sent us a photograph of Maulana Ibrahim along with GFP boss Vijai Sardesai campaigning door-to-door for the GFP party during the 2017 polls. We are trying to verify the authenticity of the image, but never-the-less thought it worthy to share the unverified image with our readers. The image has already gone viral on social media.
If one remembers, Feb 2017 was the time of demonetization and citizens were allowed to withdraw only Rs 2000 in cash each day. There was an embargo on cash withdrawals and deposits and people stood in long queues to exchange their old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
In 2017, the GFP was a new party and was fighting elections for the first time in Goa. The cash crunch broke the back of the GFP, as senior party workers were not able to even withdraw their own money in bank accounts to pay for fuel and food.
The Goa Congress was giving the GFP a very tough time and though they had agreed to have a seat sharing arrangement in 2-3 constituencies, then GPCC boss Luizinho Faleiro went back on his word and fielded candidates against GFP at the last minute.
A reader informs IndiaScoops.com as follows:
In January 2017, during the assembly elections, when GFP boss Vijai Sardesai was left high and dry at the last minute by Congress chief Luizinho Faleiro, his old friend Maulana Ibrahim along with other fish importers came to his rescue and bailed him out with a ‘cash donation of Rs 50 to Rs 75 lakh’.
Sardesai was stumped. He was expecting strong Congress support in the three constituencies of Siolim, Saligao and Fatorda. Short of cash to fight elections in 3-4 constituencies at the last minute against the cash-rich BJP and Congress, he had no recourse but to turn to “old friends”. This is when Maulana Ibrahim came to his rescue and bailed him out.
At this point of time, a reader points out, Maulana Ibrahim came to the rescue of the Goa Forward Party with a cash “loan” of Rs 50 lakh. Since his fish transport business deals in cash, he had truckloads of it stashed away and it was not difficult for him with his huge staff and multiple business accounts to convert old notes into new currency, our reader tells us via email.
Maulana Ibrahim donated more than Rs 50 lakh at a very crucial juncture, thus permanently indebting Vijai Sardesai, whose party could not even pay their workers petrol money due to demonetization, as new currency was not available, claims our reader, who has gone to the extent of alleging that almost 70 per cent of all party expenses at that time were borne by Ibrahim and his group. Without Ibrahim’s help, Sardesai was totally crippled.
Today, Ibrahim is in partnership with Vijai or his family members in real estate and transportation, our reader informs us.
Another source tells IndiaScoops.com that Ibrahim must have sponsored over Rs 75 lakh for Sardesai’s election expenses between December and February 2017. We are unable to independently verify these allegations and have published them as received from our readers.
We welcome GFP boss Vijai Sardesai to give us his inputs on these allegations. The post will be updated when we receive any inputs of either party.
A reader has sent us an email with the above information. At the outset we would like to state that we are currently trying to verify and confirm this information and for now this post is based solely on unverified information provided by a reader and various other Facebook posts. We welcome any further details on this subject. The sender’s identity will be kept secret.
Firing off names of sea fish that eat other fish, Alemao said a similar situation exists at the wholesale market with Maulana Ibrahim and the like. “If we eat formalin-laced fish, we will get cancer,” Alemao said. “The government should initiate an inquiry into the issue.”
He stressed on the need to take action to stop the sale of fish with formalin. “I have lived for 60 years, but if we don’t take action (on formalin in fish), future generations won’t even live for 30 years,” he said.
Alemao said the association at the wholesale fish market doesn’t allow locally caught fish in the market. “At midnight, trucks enter the market and our good fish is purchased and exported,” he alleged. The former CM added that the fisheries deparment doesn’t have statistics about the fish catch in the state, and how much of it is exported. He said that around 2,000 containers of about 25 tonnes each have been exported, and this includes 500 containers of mackerel, reports Times of India.
Alemao said that while fruits are being treated with chemicals and that meat too is contaminated, Goans trusted in their fish, reports Times of India.
“But with the formalin issue, even this trust is gone,” he said.
Editor’s Note:This is a developing story and will be updated as new inputs come in. We welcome any further details on this subject. The sender’s identity will be kept completely secret. You can email us on mail.indiascoops AT gmail.com
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.
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”.
“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.
“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.
PANAJI: Even though Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has refused to answer questions or confirm or deny whether fish sold in Goa actually contained formalin, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane today apologized publicly for his use of term “permissible limit” which has now become a butt joke in social media, reports IANS.
Mr Rane further said that ‘Basa’, a catfish imported largely from Malaysia and served in large numbers to restaurants in the tourism-friendly coastal belt, would now be under the scanner of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) as it is also said to be laced with preservatives.
“I would like to apologise for my remark on ‘permissible limit’ for using the wrong terminology. As I have said earlier, I will push for a permanent ban on import of fish and will appeal to the government for the same,” Mr Rane said in a Facebook post today.
Mr Rane’s use of the term ‘permissible limit’ in reference to the presence of formalin — a powerful disinfectant used to preserve cadavers — in seized fish consignments last week has been used in a series of memes in the social media.
Experts like scientists at the National Institute of Oceanography have already said that formalin per se cannot be used to preserve fish, which is meant for consumption.
The proceedings of the Goa Legislative Assembly had to be adjourned for the second consecutive day on Friday, with the opposition putting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government on the mat over the issue of use of formalin, a carcinogenic chemical, in fish consignments imported into Goa from other states.
Although the Chief Minister has already banned import of fish from other states for 15 days and promised to make a formal statement on the issue in the House on Monday, he has not formally clarified on the quantum of formalin used in the fish sold in Goa or whether criminal action would be taken against those indulging in the sale of formalin-laced fish, as demanded by the opposition.
Mr Rane, who is also Minister incharge of the FDA Department, in his social media post has already sought a complete ban on the import of fish from other states “in the interest of public health”, reports IANS.
He also said that imported consignments of Basa fish, a relatively cheap catfish native to the Mekong region in South East Asia, would also be under the FDA scanner because of reported use of preservatives, reports IANS.
There is no urgency to discuss the formalin-laced or formalin in fish controversy, because import of fish from other states has already been banned, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday, on the sidelines of the ongoing monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly, whose functioning was disrupted by the opposition on the second-day over this issue, reports IANS.
“We have already banned the import of fish so there is no urgency to discuss the issue,” Parrikar said after House proceedings were adjourned till afternoon by the Speaker Pramod Sawant, following protests by the Opposition.
This statement was made in defence of the Speaker’s decision to adjourn the house for the second day, after proceedings were not allowed to proceed by a noisy Oppostion Congress, who demanded a discussion on the Formalin issue.
“I have already told the House that I will be giving my response to the calling attention on Monday. I need time because it involves two departments (namely) the Fisheries Department and the Food Drugs Administration Department,” Parrikar said.
The Goa government on Wednesday had imposed a 15-day ban on import of fish from neighbouring states, after Food and Drug Administration officials claimed last week that formalin was being used to preserve fish.
The BJP-led coalition government in the state has been on the back foot ever since the controversy erupted, more so after two cabinet ministers, namely Town and Country Minister Vijai Sardesai and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, tried to downplay the use of formalin in fish, claiming it was within “permissible limits”.
Meanwhile, Goa Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on Friday said that he supported the Opposition on the formalin issue and said that there should be a discussion on formalin in fish issue in the state assembly, reports UNI.
During Question Hour, the Speaker was forced to adjourn the House after Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, moved an adjournment motion and insisted on raising the fish issue on the first day of the monsoon session.
Goa on Wednesday banned the import of fish from other states for 15 days, after the state Food and Drug Administration officials claimed that formalin, a powerful disinfectant used to preserve cadavers, was used to preserve fish.
The agency later flip-flopped on several occasions on the formalin use and its harm, but public pressure and criticism from the opposition forced the government to implement the temporary ban.
Panaji: Refusing to clarify whether fish from neighbouring states brought into Goa for sale, contained formalin, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday totally banned the entry of fish consignments into the state for 15 days, reports IANS, stating that this period will help the Goa FDA upgrade itself with equipment, manpower and expertise, as well as set up booths at different entry points across the state.
Parrikars move must be considered ‘smart’ because in one sweeping order, he has silenced several voices. The 15-day ban on fish imports not only calms the growing voices of dissent on the technicalities involved, but most importantly it gives the agencies enough time to upgrade and prepare themselves. It also puts to rest -at least for the time being, allegations of corruption and vested interests on part of a few Ministers in the fish import trade.
Parrikar said, “The basic issue is, in order to ensure safe food and fish being a staple food, a 15-day ban has been imposed. Meantime, FDA will make arrangements for a permanent checking facility on the front (state borders),” he added.
The Chief Minister also said that the state FDA did not have adequate mechanism which includes manpower and enough equipment to check fish consignments being brought into the state and the 15-day ban period would help fix the gap, giving the FDA time to procure the latest testing kits and equipment as well as get its staff trained to use the same.
“Let the FDA set up proper facilities in the meantime to ensure that testing is done regularly and frequently. We do not have enough testing facilities. It (fish consignments) is coming from all sides, you require teams at the entry points of the state borders. The fish consignments come in from 6-8 different directions and that too early morning. Let the controversy die down. Let the FDA set up proper facilities and they will check after that,” Parrikar told media persons in Panaji, while announcing the 15-day fish import ban in the State.
Parrikar in this quote clearly admits that the FDA does not have the testing facilities across the State.
According to news agency IANS, the decision comes a day before the upcoming monsoon session of the Goa Legislative Assembly, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government has faced criticism for trying to downplay the role of fish traders and their alleged use of formalin and a U-turn by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officials, who first seized fish consignments for use of formalin and later claimed that the powerful disinfectant was within “permissible limits”.
The FDA was grilled and gheraoed by the Opposition Congress on Monday who demanded to see the tests results, which the FDA director was unable to provide.
Justifying the ban, the CM stated the government needed time to answer all the questions…
“If we stop the import of fish for 15 days, then this question will be resolved. From August 1, Goan trawlers will hit the seas to fish, there will be no need for transporting fish from far. Therefore from today, there will be a ban on the import of fish,” Parrikar said.
The ban also gives a chance to local Goan fishermen to sell their produce and get a better price in the intervening period as prices of locally caught fish are likely to go up in the coming days as the demand increases with the ban on imported fish.
State FDA officials, after a raid on outstation fish consignments from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, had initially claimed that formalin was used to preserve fish.
But soon after the raid, Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai tweeted that the fish was fit for consumption, following which the FDA in a statement said that the chemical was “within permissible limits”. They clarified that the initial statement was based on a spot test while confirmatory tests showed the banned chemical was within “permissible limits”. But when citizens pointed out that there was nothing like a permissible limit, the FDA again did a U-turn, demonstrating that they had no concrete reliable knowledge on the subject.
Fish markets over the last few days have worn a desolate look, with consumers laying-off from purchasing fish in view of the ongoing controversy.
Parrikar on Wednesday said that the ban was announced “only as an abundant caution in the interest of the health of the citizens, to avoid controversies and confusion”.
However, despite repeated queries, the Chief Minister refused to clarify whether the fish which was consumed over the last couple of months was laced with formalin.
“I am not going into details of the tests, since I have banned the import of fish from other states. There is no point in discussing (these) issues, which possibly no one has understood properly. So I will not comment on that,” he said, clarifying that the presence or absence of formalin and the exact amount present was still a riddle or big question mark for the FDA.
This statement coming from Parrikar makes it crystal clear that the state administration has not been able to get a hang of the issue adequately and different versions or opinions have been doing the rounds within different departments of the government.
By imposing the ban, Parrikar was also taking care of a possible High Court intervention in the issue. If the Goa FDA had to admit before the Bombay High Court – a letter petition has been sent to the HC by a Goan, that it was not equipped to handle the checking of fish consignments coming into the state, it would have been a slap on the face of the government. Banning the fish killed several birds with one stone.
The Goa Assembly session begins tomorrow and the fish ban would take the wind out the opposition’s sails who were planning to nail the BJP government and its allies – the Goa Forward Party on the formalin controversy.
Local Goans were planning agitations against fish traders and importers and the government could have been on the firing line in the coming days.
Fish is a staple food for locals in Goa and the state’s seafood is popular among tourists.
Over the last one week, it was clearly evident that the Goa FDA and the government were dodging questions and giving different answers each time they were questioned on the issue. Parrikar’s clarification sets to rest and confirms at least one fact – that the Goa FDA is currently not equipped to tackle the situation.
Several experts, doctors and scientists have pointed out that formalin is not naturally occurring in fish, there is nothing like a permissible limit for formalin in fish, the only permissible limit being zero, which tests were undertaken by the FDA, were the samples changed for the second confirmatory test and what further steps are being taken to prevent adulterated fish from being sold in the markets.
The FDA first said formalin content was within “permissible limits”, then after two days clarified that the word “permissible” was incorrect and it should have been “safe limits”. But they were unable to state what those safe limits were.