Goa Tourism Industry In Turmoil: Huge Shortage of Fish Looms Over The State As 6-Month Import Ban Takes Effect

PANAJI: Even as the six-month ban on import of fish into the state of Goa came into effect from today, the Tourism Industry in Goa is staring at huge losses as exotic sea food is the backbone of the restaurants and hotels in coastal state.

The tourism industry stands to face a cumulative loss of Rs 70-95 crore, which can even go up to Rs 150 crore over a period of six months if the ban is strictly enforced, according to research conducted by IndiaScoops.com in consultation with various tourism, shacks and hotel and restaurant associations in Goa.

“Most foreigners who visit Goa during the tourism months from December to February patronize the sea-food restaurants. Various types of fish, prawns, tiger prawns, lobsters, etc., are the items of choice and the most patronized dishes on the menus of most restaurants. Goa is not able to meet the demand for this high-end, exotic sea food, including salmon, etc., which is in great demand with the foreign tourists,” said Adv Diya Shetkar, President of the Goa Citizen’s Action Forum.

According to a report in the Navhind Times, the Congress party on Sunday called upon the government and the Health Minister Vishwajit Rane to do a re-think “as it would put the state and the fish eaters in crisis.”

Addressing media persons, Congress spokesperson Sankalp Amonkar along with some youth Congress leaders on Sunday, warned that if the government imposes a ban on fish import without banning export of Goan fish, it will lead to chaos and confusion in state due to extreme fish shortage.

Amonkar expressed fear that the ban on import of fish will create fish scarcity in the state markets since fish is a staple diet of most Goans.

Elaborating further, he said that when subsidy of Rs 100 crore is given to fishermen, the catch should be enjoyed by Goans first as the money comes from the taxpayers’ pockets.

He questioned the government whether measures are in place to crack down on illegal import of fish particularly by buses, trains adding soon people will start bringing fish in their private vehicles and goods carriers.

Amonkar said that Goans should not suffer due to the ban and should get formalin-free fish and demanded that FDA officer Iva Fernandes be appointed as nodal officer.

The Congress spokesperson further said that the Health Minister Rane had made a statement that fish ban has been announced in consultation with the TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai and asked why this is happening when the state has a designated fisheries minister.

Alleging that the Fisheries Minister Vinod Palienkar is maintaining a stoic silence, Amonkar said that Palienkar should break his silence and come out clean on the issue and if he is under some pressure from anybody then he should quit the post. He said, “Let some capable person take over the post and handle the issue tactfully.”

Amonkar also alleged that the fish ban and formalin issue is a well-enacted drama by two ministers and fish mafia and alleged that only ministers and fish mafia are speaking but the fisheries minister is silent over the issue.

with inputs from The Navhind Times

Goa Congress says Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar no more?

PANAJI: According to an IANS report, Congress on Monday said that ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has not been seen in public since October 14, may be no more, drawing a sharp rebuttal from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Yes, we are taking that call. It is an extreme call that the honourable Chief Minister may not be there at all,” Congress spokesperson Jitendra Deshprabhu told the media here.

Parrikar has not had a single public appearance since his return from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and is currently bedridden at his private residence, which party sources said has been converted into a sophisticated medical facility, with doctors and para-medical staff on 24-hour duty.

The Congress alleged that a coterie of officials around the Chief Minister was “illegally” taking decisions in his “absence”.

The BJP called the statement a result of Congress “frustration” and accused the party of lowering the political discourse.

On October 27, soon after Health Minister Vishwajit Rane for the first time officially revealed that Parrikar was suffering from pancreatic cancer, the Chief Minister’s Office said that Parrikar was expected to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday at his private residence.

Deshprabhu told reporters that the BJP and the BJP-led coalition should prove to the people of Goa that Parrikar was alive.

The Congress leader also accused the media of trying to play down the severity of Parrikar’s ailment.

Goa BJP General Secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavade said that “Deshprabhu must be frustrated if he is making statements like this”.

Source: IANS

More Trouble for Goa BJP as RSS Rebel Subhash Velingkar Wipes out Shakas, Vows to Bring BJP Party Down

Devika Sequeira | The Wire: Stuck with finding a replacement for Manohar Parrikar, the Bharatiya Janata Party has resorted to the cynical ploy of putting the Goa government in a total state of freeze. But there’s more trouble looming round the corner for the saffron party. It comes in the shape of the outspoken former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, who recently articulated the widely held perception that the seriously ill chief minister was being prevented from signing off, so the “power hungry” BJP can continue to cling to power.

Parrikar’s health was “deteriorating very fast”, but a small cabal of insiders had assumed control of his affairs to the extent that no one was allowed to visit the chief minister to prevent the public from knowing “his true condition”, Velingkar told The Wire. He said he’d been told Parrikar’s brother too had not been allowed to visit him recently. The former RSS man named a high profile government lawyer, a doctor and a minor party functionary running the inner clique for putting out information on the Goa CM’s health “that no one believes”.

Earlier in the week, responding to media questions on the chief minister’s medical condition, health minister Vishwajit Rane’s remarks raised eyebrows, when he said people often defied medical science to get better and he believed “a miracle can happen” in Parrikar’s case. Rane is among those lobbying to become chief minister.

Sacked from the RSS in September 2016 for his unsparing criticism of Parrikar’s education policy, Velingkar’s rebellion caused the first ever split in the Sangh when he formed a parallel RSS Goa Prant – renamed Bharat Mata Ki Jai since. The dismissal from the right-wing mother lode he had nurtured in Goa is an ignominy he hasn’t forgotten. “They sent three letters sacking me. It was done in connivance with the BJP’s central leaders,” he says. The bitter parting of ways continues to resonate politically in Goa. In last year’s election, Velingkar and his RSS supporters campaigned extensively against the BJP in constituencies where the Sangh has a footprint. Several RSS-rooted BJP MLAs were defeated in the 2017 election, including the former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

Ninety-five percent of the Goa RSS cadre is now a part of his rebel organisation. The Sangh’s shakas here have been practically wiped out by the exodus to the shakti kendras of his group, Velingkar claims. “There are no RSS shakas in Goa. We have 5,000 workers and 107 shakti kendras.” His target, he says, is “to bring down this government and finish the BJP”.

Whether he can indeed make a difference is another matter. But it is hardly good news for a party already in deep turmoil over the leadership crisis and the entry of two former Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte who defected to the BJP on October 16 to bring down the Congress tally in the House from 16 to 14. The BJP’s ruthless cheque-book politics is the last thing Goa needed with its government in a state of paralysis for over eight months ever since Parrikar was diagnosed with cancer.

A day after Shirodkar’s defection, local newspapers were awash with reports of how he’d been rewarded with a land acquisition deal worth Rs 70 crore. The property the government is buying for no reason is being acquired at ten times the market value, the reports said. The case has now been taken to the Goa Lokayukta.

Governor Mridula Sinha’s silence over the charade of a government in Goa has also been criticised. “The governor’s intervention is long overdue,” Prabhakar Timble, a former state election commissioner pointed out. “For the governor to accept that the seat of chief minister is still not vacant is to turn a blind eye to the primary constitutional duty [of her post]”.

A press release put out Saturday said Parrikar would chair a cabinet meet at his residence on Wednesday. The last cabinet meeting was held earlier this year in February. The BJP leader was brought back to Goa from the All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi on October 14.

Devika Sequeira is a freelance journalist based in Goa.

Source: The Wire

Get Ramdev Baba to ‘purify’ Cong MLAs Sopte and Shirodkar who joined BJP: Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco

Senior Goa Congress leader Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco on Monday hit out at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for inducting some Congres MLAs in the BJP whom he had earlier called “corrupt”, reported PTI.

Also Read: Rebellion in Goa BJP as Laxmikant Parsekar, Rajendra Arlekar and Dayanand Manderkar demand State President Vinay Tendulkar’s resignation, trio may join GSM?

Lourenco, in a sarcastic vein, said that Parrikar should get Yoga guru Ramdev to “purify” these MLAs and leaders.

Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar, Congress MLAs from Mandrem and Shiroda respectively, had resigned from the opposition party as well as the state Assembly and joined the BJP last week.

Also Read: About Rs 12 Crore Spent Till Date On CM Manohar Parrikar’s Treatment

Lourenco claimed that Parrikar, as Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly, had once written to the President of India alleging that Sopte and Vishwajit Rane, a former Congress MLA who is currently state health minister, were corrupt and involved in the illegal Goa mining scam.

Also Read: CM cannot walk or speak, for last six months he is in hospital, he must hand over his job to someone else: Michael Lobo

“Parrikar has inducted the same Congress leaders in his party whom he had tagged as corrupt politicians when he was in the opposition. Parrikar should call Baba Ramdev to purify all such (former) Congress leaders,” Lourenco said at a press conference at the Congress HQ in Panaji.

Source: PTI

Amit Shah, Goa BJP leaders promised me a Cabinet berth, GTDC chairmanship for joining party: Dayanand Sopte

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.

Source: Herald & Agencies

Formalin in fish: Vishwajit Rane apologizes for ‘permissible limit’ remark, Basa Fish from Malaysia on Goa FDA Radar

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.

Also Read: Fish mafia earns a ‘minimum profit’ of Rs 5-10 Cr a month or Rs 120 Cr annually, politicians, senior police officials, bureaucrats are either partners or get the best catch free?

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.

Also Read: Rs 25 lakh ‘bribe’ paid by inter-state fish mafia to BJP-led Goa Govt to get a clean chit in formalin contamination controversy

“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.

Also Read: Formalin present, but Goa FDA ‘pressurized’ and ‘managed’ by a Minister and fish mafia to retract reports, manipulate tests

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.

Also Read: Should we give FDA Padma Bhushan? Vijai Sardesai slams media & FDA, calls journos ‘prophets of doom’ who made FDA director a ‘heroine’   

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.

Also Read: Should I look into your stomach? Should I enter your stomach and tell you if fish is formalin free: angry Parrikar retorts

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.

Also Read: Parrikar says Not Urgent to discuss Formalin-in-Fish issue

Besides the checks on Basa fish, the FDA would also continue its checks on chicken and vegetables without causing any trouble to the people,” Mr Rane said.

On account of the low price tag, imported Basa fish are served in the form of fried fillets or in fish curry by restaurants across Goa’s coastal belt.

Source: IANS

OMG! Parrikar says it’s Not Urgent to discuss Formalin-in-Fish issue, as Import Ban already in place

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.

Also Read: Fish mafia earns a ‘minimum profit’ of Rs 5-10 Cr a month or Rs 120 Cr annually, politicians, senior police officials, bureaucrats are either partners or get the best catch free?

Speaking to media persons, the CM said:

“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.

Also Read: Rs 25 lakh ‘bribe’ paid by inter-state fish mafia to BJP-led Goa Govt to get a clean chit in formalin contamination controversy

The Chief Minister also said that he would be making a statement on the contentious issue on Monday, said the IANS report.

Also Read: Fish Mafia King Maulana Ibrahim Funded and Actively Campaigned for Goa Forward Party During 2017 Elections?

“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.

Also Read: Should we give FDA Padma Bhushan? Vijai Sardesai slams media & FDA, calls journos ‘prophets of doom’ who made FDA director a ‘heroine’   

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.

Also Read: Parrikar admits current Goa FDA setup unequipped, understaffed and incapable of properly detecting adulterants in food and fish across the State?

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”.

Also Read: Should I look into your stomach? Should I enter your stomach and tell you if fish is formalin free: angry Parrikar retorts

According to IANS, the claim was disputed by several experts including marine scientists at the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography.

Also Read: Parrikar going soft on formalin-fish issue to protect Minister, Save Govt

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.

Source: IANS & PTI

Fishy tales: Goa CM’s office monitoring use of formalin in fish, claims Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane

The Goa Chief Minister’s Office is monitoring the crisis that arose on Thursday after formalin traces were found in fish being sold in the wholesale markets in the coastal state, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said on Friday, reports IANS.

The Minister, however, said that the formalin content in the fish consignments was within permissible limits.

Also Read: High levels of formalin, formaldehyde and other chemicals detected in FDA raids on Goa fish markets

Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Rane said that some fish inherently contain formalin and that by speaking to the media before conducting laboratory tests, the officials of the state Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) may have ended up starting a public scare.

“The Chief Minister is also monitoring the situation. I have asked for a detailed report from FDA,” Rane said.

Also Read: Fish mafia earns a ‘minimum profit’ of Rs 5-10 Cr a month or Rs 120 Cr annually, politicians, senior police officials, bureaucrats are either partners or get best catch free?

On Friday, after conducting raids at the Margao and Panaji fish markets, the FDA officials confirmed the presence of formalin or formaldehyde — a chemical used as a disinfectant to preserve dead bodies — in fish consignments imported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. They sealed the fish consignments containing traces of formalin.

Also Read: Formalin present, but Goa FDA ‘pressurized’ and ‘managed’ by a Minister and fish mafia to retract reports, manipulate tests

However, after conducting laboratory tests, the FDA issued a statement claiming that the formalin content was within permissible limits, but not before Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai also tweeted that the consignments were safe for human consumption.

Sardesai’s comments, before the FDA officially released a formal statement, attracted criticism from the opposition and civil society, who accused the Minister of trying to pressurise FDA officials into giving wholesale fish traders a clean chit.

Also Read: Rs 25 lakh ‘bribe’ paid by inter-state fish mafia to BJP-led Goa Govt to get a clean chit in formalin contamination controversy

Rane on Friday said that some fish inherently contain formalin and that there was no need to panic.

“Fish also contain some formalin inside body. We will carry out regular monitoring of fish and ensure that fish beyond certain levels of formalin are not sold in Goa,” Rane said.

Source: IANS