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.
The consignment was being taken to Kozhikkode for supply when the truck broke down near Vadakara.
Hindustan Times reports that locals alerted officials after a bad smell started emanating from the truck. Later, food safety officials inspected the vehicle and confirmed that the fish was stale and laced with formalin, used as an antiseptic and disinfectant, among other purposes, to extend shelf life.
A senior official said presence of other chemicals can be ascertained only after tests.
The consignment contained mackerel, seer fish, prawns and sardines, officials said.
Large quantities of adulterated fish have been seized from many border check-posts in the past month, triggering a scare throughout Kerala. Similar complaints were reported from Goa, West Bengal and Assam.
Since domestic supply is enough to meet only 60% of its requirement, it is dependent heavily on other states. To meet growing demand, the state fisheries department has started inland aquaculture and cage farming, but these measures are yet to plug the demand-supply gap.
Medical experts said formalin, a derivative of formaldehyde, which is generally used to preserve bodies, can cause serious ailments like cancer.
In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program dubbed formaldehyde a human carcinogen.
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.
The Goa government must come clean on the formalin in fish issue. For now, it is clearly evident that the Goa FDA and the government seem to be dodging questions and giving different answers each time they are questioned on the issue.
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.
IndiaScoops.com spoke to several experts in Goa, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat on the issue. There is no naturally occurring formalin in fish, only aldehydes are naturally occurring and that too in very small, microscopic trace amounts.
“The current Goa FDA setup does not have the man power, hi-tech equipment and possibly the technical expertise and advanced knowledge required to check and immediately analyse the presence of formalin and other adulterants in fish and other consumable goods like snacks, fruits, vegetables and sweets. The Goa government must admit this and come clean on the issue,” opined a Mumbai-based marine scientist Marina Rebello who originally hails from Goa.
There is no harm if the government accepts its shortcomings and makes amends and immediately invests in equipment and trained manpower to tackle the arising situation. But lying to the public to cover up lacunae is just not done, Rebello said.
According to a Times of India report, two experts separately told TOIthat the cancer-causing chemical is a highly toxic, synthetic compound and cannot be naturally present in fish.
“Formalin is not a naturally occurring compound. Compounds like amino acids can be naturally present in fish, but formalin cannot be naturally present,” Dr Anil Chatterji, a marine biologist who spent four decades with National Institute of Oceanography, told the Times of India.
Secondly, experts told IndiaScoops.com that the aldehydes which are naturally present in fish occur in very trace amounts and decompose after 4-10 hours after the fish is removed from the sea or mixed with ice and stored for transport. So ideally, there should be no aldehyde present in fish after about 12 hours spent in transport.
A microbiologist and former head of Goa University’s microbiology department Dr Joe D’Souza also confirmed that the claim “formalin is occurring naturally in fish is false. Whatever is occurring naturally in fish is aldehyde, which is used as a nutrient and it produces energy through various metabolic processes. Formalin is a highly toxic chemical used as a
preservative,” reports TOI.
Chatterji, a scientist currently working with the Centre’s department of biotechnology, said:
if formalin in any level is present in fish—even small traces—this fish becomes unfit for human consumption and is poisonous.
“We use formalin to preserve fish when we bring it to carry out experiments, but this fish cannot be eaten. In fact, when we collect live fish and add 1-2ppm formalin, the fish dies. This is because formalin is neuro toxic and stops all physiological activity,” Chatterji told TOI.
On Thursday, FDA had found traces of formalin in fish imported from other states when it did spot tests but later after conducting lab tests, issued a statement that the toxic chemical “was within permissible limits”. But even before FDA could issue a statement about “permissible limits of formalin being present in fish”, TCP minister Vijai Sardesai tweeted “there were no traces of formalin” and all fish coming into Goa “was safe” for consumption.
Within 24 hours, Sardesai’s cabinet colleague and health minister Vishwajit Rane further clarified, “there is formalin inherent in fish,” while FDA, which is under Rane’s ministry, backed it up with another statement: “It is to be noted that marine fish naturally contains certain amount of formalin.”
Late on Sunday, after much public uproar and having received flak from all ends, the government decided to make the lab reports public and said in the samples tested at FDA lab, the cancer-causing chemical compound was present in fish in the level of 0.5ppm, which is “in permissible limits”.
But Chatterji contested the claim and said consuming fish with presence of formalin below 0.5ppm levels may not have immediate effect on the human body, but is bound to prove harmful in the long run, reports TOI.
“Consuming such fish will be harmful in the long term, especially for children. It can lead to diseases. Formalin penetrates inside the tissue and is poisonous and carcinogenic. It is very bad. Really dangerous,” said Chatterji, who spent 40 years with NIO in Dona Paula researching marine species on the Indian coast.
D’Souza said formalin is obtained by mixing 37gm of formaldehyde in 100ml of water and is used to preserve dead bodies and as an anti-bacterial agent for various purposes says TOI.
“Formaldehyde present in formalin is highly pungent and corrosive. It is well known that formalin causes adverse morphological and genetic effects. Formalin also penetrates the skin and enters the cells, damaging the nucleus. As a result, the function of producing normal cell components is lost. This disruption of DNA is called muto-genesis and can cause cancer,” D’Souza told TOI.
Chatterji said even when formalin is used in laboratories, protective gear like gloves and masks are used as fumes of the compound are considered harmful to humans.
“Nowhere has formalin been recommended as a preservative for fish used for human consumption,” Chatterji added.
For the last one week, Goans have been wondering why senior Congress leaders in Goa who are otherwise very vocal on every issue have been silent on the fish-in-formalin issue. No senior Congress leader in Goa has spoken on the subject, though everyone of them consumes fish in their homes, almost everyday.
And why only single out Congress leaders? Even Catholic BJP leaders have been strikingly quiet on an issue which concerns the entire population of Goa, from the poorest of the poor to the most elite families of Goa, all consume fish or fish products.
One of the reasons for the silence of the Catholic BJP leaders could be the strict instructions issued by CM Manohar Parrikar to Ministers not to speak when not asked to, but the fish issue is so intrinsic to Goa that the Catholic BJP Ministers – who have flouted Parrikar’s instructions in the past on several occasions, could have opened their mouths even this time.
After a lot of poking around in Goa, it seems that at least three senior Congress leaders and four BJP leaders are involved in the bulk fish transportation trade and are partners in the business. IndiaScoops.com has found out that almost all politicians in Goa have their fingers in the fish pie in a very big way and hence were silent on the issue. Out of the 7, four of them are from South Goa alone. And we are not referring to TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai at all in this post.
According to a report in The Goan, after traces of formalin in fish imported in the wholesale fish market was spotted by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) triggered confusion and scare among fish loving Goans, nothing has been heard from the SGPDA administration nor its members, including TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai, Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, Ponda MLA Ravi Naik, PDA Chairperson Dr Renuka Da Silva, Margao Municipal Chairperson Babita Prabhudesai and others till date.
Yes Vijai Sardesai has been the center of the storm, but for different reasons.
Apart from being a PDA member given his status as the MLA of Fatorda constituency, TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai has an added responsibility since the SGPDA, which owns the market, comes under his Town and Country Planning (TCP) department, reports The Goan.
The formalin episode and SGDPA’s silence has thrown up a moot question – whether the Planning and Development will shoulder its responsibility and ensure that fish coming into its market is safe and hygienic. This question assumes significance after The Goan called up SGPDA Member Secretary Ashok Kumar to find out whether the Planning body has initiated any steps to ensure that the wholesale market only receives fresh fish free from chemicals and pollutants and the official pushing the buck on the agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reign in on the violators.
“The PDA has no role to play in respect of reports that fish laced with formalin was detected in the wholesale fish market. The issue over the presence of chemicals, if any, falls within the domain of agencies such as the FDA,” Ashok Kumar told The Goan.
When it was further pointed out that the PDA is the owner of the wholesale fish market and cannot abdicate its responsibility to ensure only safe and hygienic fish comes into the market, Ashok Kumar said he would place the matter before the Authority meeting for discussion and also write to the FDA to keep a vigil on the entry of fish into the market.
Doubts are raised whether the SGPDA had at any point of time in recent years dashed off any letter to the FDA or the health to conduct routine checks at the wholesale fish market to ascertain the quality of fish coming in the market from across the borders. “Leave alone the question of the alleged presence of fish laced with formalin, there should be no room for even stale fish in the market. Let the authorities, including the PDA set up a mechanism in the wholesale fish market to check the quality of fish”, remarks a citizen.
Goa’s lone wholesale fish market was earlier operating from the Margao Pick-up stand before the market was shifted at the dead of night to the SGPDA retail market exactly 17 years ago. Months later, the SGPDA set in motion to acquire land admeasuring 10,000 square meters at Madel to house the wholesale fish market as its presence in the PDA retail market threw up a host of problems, including sanitation, reports The Goan.
Panaji, July 14 (IANS) Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai on Saturday accused the state’s media of acting like “prophets of doom” as major local dailies ran stories and editorials criticizing the government for its alleged bid to downplay presence of formalin in fish sold here and its flip-flop on the level of the chemical formalin, reports IANS.
Sardesai also told a press conference that the coastal state, a popular seafood destination, may ban bringing fish from outside the state in future if the consignments again test positive for formalin content, reports IANS.
Sardesai also snubbed a Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officer, claiming the media projected her as a “heroine” and asked whether the Padma Bhushan should be bestowed upon her and the staff who conducted raid in the wee hours of Friday, exposing the use of formalin in fish.
“You are journalists, you are the fourth estate in a democracy. You have an obligation to the people. You can’t be prophets of doom,” Sardesai told a press conference in Margao town in South Goa on Saturday.
“I am responding because editorials have come. I am responding because of the sensationalism which the media is presently (indulging in) full-swing. All sections of media, not only a certain section,” said the Minister, who is alleged to have backed a fish trader, whose consignments of fish tested positive during field tests conducted by the FDA. Sardesai has denied the charge.
Results of subsequent laboratory tests by the FDA on Friday, which incidentally followed a tweet by Sardesai giving a clean chit to the fish trader, said that the levels of formalin, a powerful disinfectant used to preserve dead bodies, was “within permissible limits”.
Sardesai also accused the media of sensationalizing the formalin-in-fish issue, saying that newspapers had portrayed the woman FDA Inspector who conducted the raid as a “heroine”, says the IANS report.
He said not just fish but eating contaminated fruit also causes cancer.
Curtorim Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco today criticized the Goa government for its lackadaisical attitude towards the formalin fish contamination issue. Speaking to media persons today, Lourenco via a video message, appealed to the CM Manohar Parrikar to personally look into the matter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rs 35 lakh: Yes that’s the cost the PMO spent only on Narendra Modi’s Yoga videos and photo shoot for International Yoga Day June 21, 2018, which went viral all over the world. And yes, these are conservative figures only!
This does not include the costs for the animated yoga videos where a cartoon character resembling Modi is shown demonstrating various asanasor yoga positions. The animated Modi Yoga cartoon video was made by a private party at the insistence of the BJP Media Cell. It is not known if the private party has billed the BJP for the animation, which is expected to cost at least an additional Rs 40-45 lakh. Another source told IndiaScoops.comthat such animation could even cost Rs 75 to 80 lakh depending on where it is done. It is much cheaper in cities like Hyderabad, but costs double if done at a large Animation Studio in Mumbai.
Addressing the nation in his monthly radio address, ‘Mann Ki Baat‘, the Prime Minister lauded people who made the animation yoga video and shared the same too.
The PMO is extremely tight-lipped about the expenses for this ‘publicity stunt’ and strict instructions have been given to PMO personnel not to discuss it even casually with friends or family. Why all this secrecy, unless the money came from some tainted source?
Officially, the PMO maintains it did not spend a single penny on this shoot –the same was corroborated by a tweet by Sports and I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore on Monday evening, almost 24 hours after the original post went viral, (the post has been updated since then) who stated in his tweet that the videos and photos were shot by the in-house PMO videographer, but unofficially, PMO sources confirmed to IndiaScoops.com that the entire exercise cost over Rs 35 lakh, which was ‘donated’ or ‘sponsored’ by a third party. Nobody is however ready to share the name of the third-party and after this news went viral on social media, our PMO source has switched off his mobile phone or probably got himself a new number.
IndiaScoops.comtried to contact the PMO for an official comment or clarification, but were stone-walled. It now seems a huge part of this amount was spent in circulating and disseminating the video and not on the shoot per say, and getting media houses and Tv channels to run it during prime time.
IndiaScoops.com before publishing this post on Saturday, made attempts to contact the Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore for comment, but there was no response, possibly because it was a Saturday and after working hours.
Another RTI query had revealed that the government in 2015 spent Rs 15.87 crore on SMS messages alone to promote Yoga Day ahead of 21 June.
While the PMO source has denied that the amount mentioned above for the yoga shoot was spent from the purse of the Public Exchequer this year, sources indicate that the expense involved in shooting and editing the videos was “sponsored” by a private party whose identity is unknown. The videos were shot over 3 days and then edited. Besides the actual video and photo shoot, there was a ‘making video’ also made. Similarly, there was a professional photo shoot done, which was released publicly only after editing and touch up.
Was this amount paid by the BJP party? The answer may never be known.
Modi posted his fitness video on Twitter which shows him meditating, walking on a track inspired by five elements of nature, and doing yoga exercises.
The AYUSH Ministry spent over Rs 20 crores this year for the fourth edition of the International Yoga Day, reports NDTV. This figure was obtained by RTI and reports were published by several mainline publications.
More than half of this amount was spent on advertisement, campaigns and special programmes across various media platforms like television, newspapers, journals and social media.
The government also spent on accessories like T-shirts, caps, mats for the participants of mass yoga sessions, including the ones organised by Indian missions abroad.
The Rs. 20 crore budget did not include expenditure incurred on security and other overheads. Nor did it include expenditure by various state governments. Several NGOs were roped in to mobilize participants and the expenses spent by these NGOs is obviously not included in these figures. Media reports claim that nearly one lakh yoga enthusiasts were roped in by NGOs for demonstrations in Delhi alone and the logistics alone could have cost not less than Rs 2 crore.
RTI data had revealed that Ayush had spent Rs 32.5 crores last year on International Yoga Day. This year’s budget was lower but the government did not want a confrontation with the opposition on the scale of celebrations.
“There are 193 countries in United Nations and except Libya and Yemen, yoga day is being celebrated in all the countries,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said.
The Mass Yoga demonstration at Rajpath in 2015 had cost Rs 7.59 crore. Expenses for the International Conference on Yoga was Rs 1.83 crore The Ministry of External Affairs spent Rs 8 crore for related advertising and promotion activities in various Indian Missions across the world.
Apart from these, the Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN) provided assistance of up to 1 lakh rupees per district for the celebration, a total of Rs 6.7 crore. The Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) produced a film and booklets on Yoga with an expenditure of Rs 34.8 lakh.
According to information provided by the Ministry of AYUSH under RTI, the vendor for managing the event at Rajpath was M/s. Arch Concept Pvt. Ltd. The vendor was paid a total of Rs 3.67 crore for the arrangements, reports Factly.
While it is not clear where the yoga mats were procured from, with reports claiming that the mats were purchases in bulk from China, the RTI reply suggests that the vendor Arch Concept procured 36000 yoga mats. The total expenditure (including tax) for these 36000 Yoga Mats was Rs 1.02 crore.
Meanwhile, an RTT filed by an Aam Aadmi Party activist has revealed that Rs 8.5 crore was spent just to advertise the Prime Minister’s ‘mann ki baat‘ radio address.
A RTI filed by AAP activist Mulk Raj Anand last year revealed that the government has spent over Rs 8.5 crore from January to 29 July – a period of six months, on newspaper advertisements to promote the Prime Minister’s radio address, reports the Indian Express.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam took a dig at Modi for posting a video on fitness challenge and wondered how many days did he “waste” on making the video.
“In last 4 years i.e 1475 days, PM Modi spent 800 days on public rallies, more than 150 days on foreign trips. But he attended Parliament only for 19 days. God knows how many days he wasted on his Yoga videos?” Nirupam, who is the president of Mumbai Pradesh Congress Committee, said.
He also passed on the fitness challenge to Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, table tennis player Manika Batra and IPS officers, especially those above 40 years of age.
The prime minister’s one-and-a-half minute video came nearly a month after he accepted the fitness challenge thrown by Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli.
While posting the video Modi said, “Apart from Yoga, I walk on a track inspired by the Panchtatvas or 5 elements of nature – Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu, Aakash. This is extremely refreshing and rejuvenating. I also practise breathing exercises.”
Wearing a black jogging outfit, Modi is seen walking on a track created around a tree, doing stretching exercise and sitting on a rock for meditation.
He is also seen balancing himself while walking on a narrow, circular track.
Update: According to a Times of Indiareport, Sports and I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore on Monday evening clarified via a post on Twitter that no money was spent on the photo shoot. The TOIreport states Rathore ‘slammed’ Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and said that no money was spent on the PM Modi’s fitness video. He claimed in his tweet that the video was shot by the PMO videographer.
The Union minister was responding to Tharoor’s tweet which cited a media report alleging Rs 35 lakh was spent to shoot the video. Quoting the tweet, TOI says, the I&B minister took a dig at Tharoor’s mention of “lambs” in the tweet and said, “And I assure you, sir, not a single ‘lamb’ was sacrificed for the vid, let alone 35!”
IndiaScoops.com responds: We, like most other Indians do not expect the PMO to admit to these expenses, particularly after such a furor on social media. In the post above, we have clearly stated that these were unofficial expenses, incurred by a third party. Which means, they do not fall under RTI. Like we have said above (and in the clarification below), the story is based on inputs provided by a PMO source, the identity of whom we unfortunately cannot reveal at this stage. We stand by our story.
Editor’s Note & Clarification: Firstly we would like to thank all those who shared this post. After this post went viral on social media, IndiaScoops.comgot several emails asking for the veracity and details of our news source.
We at IndiaScoops.comare intrigued and humored that the pro-BJP, right-wing propaganda website opindia.com has dedicated a detailed post about us. Yes, we are ready to share our “sources” with you, which our team has developed over the last 25 years and more, of being ‘real’ journalists all over India, but unfortunately, you won’t like to publish our stuff. Truth hurts, they say!
Dear opindia.com and all the other pro-BJP, right-wing websites and their teams and owners, we have just one message for you: we may not have the ‘deep pockets’ you have. But we definitely have one thing that you will never have – we have been ‘real’ journalists even before you were born. And speaking of our ‘sources’, the real stuff is yet to come. Having said this, let us clarify, we are not anti-Modi or anti-BJP. Give us a good story and we will publish it, period!
Yes we did ‘buy’ our current FB page from someone else. Is that a crime? You guys too buy your FB ‘LIKES’, ‘Twitter Follows” and ‘YouTube Subscribers’ from Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other such places that have click farms and run automated software ‘auto-likers’ and other ‘sidey’ vendors. We all know the lot, don’t we?
There were several abusive and threatening emails (which we anyway expected), after seeing what has been happening to Cabinet Minister Sushma Swaraj.
However, we cannot reply to all emails and hence are using this space below to clarify the following queries:
This post will be updated and modified as new data is available. The Rs 35 lakh figure was given to us by our PMO source. As every journalist and editor knows, the actual identity of “sources” is sacrosanct and cannot be revealed. No matter what! So we are sorry we cannot identify or reveal the name of our PMO source.
The rest of the figures quoted above in this article are all in public domain and have already been published in the past by various reputed publications and have been obtained through RTI.
This is a developing story and will be updated or corrected as more information pours in. IndiaScoops.comhas contacted several people associated with the Yoga Day celebrations for their input and feedback and re-confirmation of details. We will update this story as and when additional information comes in.
And last, but not least, we request the PMO to kindly make public the name of the agency, photographer and cinematographer who shot the video. Give them some credit guys, you kinda entertained millions!
We welcome our readers (and enemies) to send us feedback to indiascoops AT gmail.com
After 11 deaths due to the deadly Nipah Virus in northern Kerala, the state government on Wednesday issued an advisory asking travelers to avoid visiting the four districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Waynad and Kannur. Tourists have been warned against entering the above four districts.
“Travelling to any part of Kerala is safe. However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, they may avoid the four districts”, Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said.
The government has also called for an all-party meeting at Kozhikode on May 25 to disucss the issue. MPs, MLAs, other representatives of people and leaders of various political parties would attend the meeting, Health minister K K Shylaja today said.
Ten people have lost their lives to Nipah in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts so far and 19 are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, including one in Waynad. Of the 13 confirmed cases, 10 persons have died and two are extremely serious.
Isolation wards have also been set up in Thalassery government hospital in Kannur, according to media reports. In Kozhikode, from where seven deaths have been reported, District Collector U V Jose has ordered temporary stoppage of all training programmes and summer camps in affected areas such as Changaroth, Koorachund, Kottur, Cheruvannur, Chekyad, Chakkittapara and Olavanna.
The anganwadis is these regions too have been asked to close down to avoid the spread of the virus among children. However, no decision has been taken yet concerning the reopening of schools after the summer vacation.
The administration is hoping that the situation will be under control by the time schools reopen after a week.
“The number of newly infected cases is very low now”, Jose said in a statement.
In neighbouring Malappuram, where three persons have died due to the virus,orders have been issued in four panchayats to stop Anganwadi classes for the time being. A crisis management group has been constituted to coordinate the responseof government agencies following the deaths in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
The group comprises Additional Chief Secretaries of Health, Revenue, Labour, Home; Principal secretary Forest, Director Animal Husbandry and state Epidemiologists, among others.
Keeping in mind the sacrifice of 28-year-old Lini Puthussery, a nurse at Perambra Taluk hospital, who died after being infected by the virus while treating her patients, Government today decided to give a job to her husband and financial assistance of rs 10 lakh each for her two sons – aged five and two. The next of kin of nine others who died of the virus would be given an assistance of Rs five lakh each.
Meanwhile, DGP Loknath Behara warned that stern action would be taken against those who spread false information with regard to the virus in the social media.
Creation of fake or false messages, spreading them to cause panic or public disorder are criminal acts and liable for investigation and prosecution. Directions have been issued to DGP (crimes) to register criminal cases against the creators of the messages and propagators, he said.
An expert team from the National Centre for Disease -Control (NCDC), including its director, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and Head of Epidemiology, Dr S K Jain, and a high-level team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS)are already in Kerala to take stock of the situation.
Surveillance has been increased in all districts. The outbreak of the virus infection, which is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans, is suspected to be from an unused well which was infested with bats.
The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus. The Kerala Health minister also said there was no need to be afraid of bats and their habitats should not to destroyed.
Reports attributing the Nipah virus outbreak to fruit bats (herbivorous bats which chiefly consume fruits) has come as a dampener for fruit vendors, especially those selling mangoes. According to a report in the BBC, fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the virus.
Health officials in Kerala said they had found mangoes bitten by bats in a home where three people died of the suspected infection, reports the BBC. People in Kerala and even parts of Karnataka and Goa have begun avoiding mangoes since reports began tickling in that Mangoes could cause the spread of the Nipah virus.
For despite it being one of the seasons during which fruits are in much demand, the reports are making people think twice before venturing out to buy fruits, reports The New Indian Express.
‘Express’ talked to a few fruit vendors in the city and found only fruits such as mangoes, especially those procured locally, are not finding takers.
“The sale of local mangoes has gone down since the news broke. But people are buying mangoes brought from neighbouring states. Reports that fruits like mango, guava and chikoo are bats’ favourite diet are putting off people,” said Jaison of PJJ Fruits. He said apples, grapes, oranges, mosambi and bananas were being sold as usual. “We can provide guarantees for the quality apples, kiwis and other fruits since they are brought here after undergoing an extensive treatment process,” he said. Jaison said it was sad the fruits sales were declining.
“These are the when we see maximum sales thanks to Ramadan and the fluctuating temperature,” he said. Vendors at Kaloor market and nearby places said they have adopted various measures to prevent the fruits from getting contamination of being eaten by animals.
“The best way to protect the fruits from rodents and bats is to cover them with plastic sheets, keep them in boxes and not leave them unattended especially at nights when the animals are most active,” said a vendor.
Walking through the market, one can see most fruit shops disposing of the fruits which have gone bad. However, smaller shops chop off the spoiled parts and sell the fruits at lower prices.
Direct contact with infected pigs, other infected animals or through contaminated fruits (half-eaten fruits left by fruit bats), and even direct contact with sick persons are the underlying cause of outbreaks, say the experts. They say the Nipah virus can also spread through water if the fruits are washed using water which has been contaminated with a bat’s excreta.
A big put off
Those who follow a fruit-based diet have been hit the worst.
“I am going to refrain from eating fruits, especially mangoes, for a while. It is less time-consuming than checking each and every fruit for bite marks or scratches. Why take chances?” said Indira, who followed a strict fruit diet.
For Sini Sebastian, a counsellor, bananas are the best bet. “You can easily identify a damaged fruit. So I will be more confident while buying bananas than I will be while buying mangoes or guavas,” said Sini.
Vasanthakumari, a homemaker, said it was best to grow your own fruits and vegetables. “This way, you can ensure quality. In the case of guavas and bananas, I make sure the fruits are well-covered to protect them from bats and other animals. I even wash them in turmeric water and organic fruit washing solution,” she said.
Protecting the fruit treasure
According to Anitha Binoy, a homemaker, said the best way to protect the fruits was to cover them. “In the case of trees like rambutan and sapotta, farmers use nets. They cover the entire trees to save the fruits from bats. For guavas and bananas, bags are used. In the case of guavas, individual fruits are covered using plastic bags. For bananas, sacks or even the leaves of the plant are used,” she said.
The bats only attack some fruits, said George Thomas, Dean, Horticulture College, Thrissur. “They do not attack jackfruit, but relish mangoes, rambutan and sapotta or chikoo, because the fruits have soft skins,” he said.