A day after Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane alleged that some “vested interests” were trying to protect the fish importers’ lobby in the state, his cabinet colleague Vijai Sardesai today urged him to expose such elements.
Amid reports about the presence of formalin in fish coming into Goa from other states, the government has banned the import of fish into the state till the end of this month.
The move came in the wake of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) raiding the wholesale fish market at Margao on July 12 and seizing the fish, suspected to be laced with formalin, a preservative that is believed to be carcinogenic.
The FDA had initially confirmed the presence of formalin in fish, but had later withdrawn its own findings. Mr Rane, who also holds the FDA portfolio in the Manohar Parrikar-led cabinet, had alleged that those engaged in the business of importing fish into Goa were destroying the lives of the people.
The minister had also alleged that some vested interests were trying to protect this lobby, which imports the fish in the coastal state.
Mr Rane also sought a complete ban on the import or export of fish in the state. “Sometimes strong decisions are required in the interest of the people,” he had said.
Incidentally, one of the leading importers of fish in Goa, whose trucks were checked by the FDA during its raid at the wholesale fish market, lives in Fatorda, the constituency represented by Mr Sardesai.
Reacting to Mr Rane’s statements, Mr Sardesai, the state Agriculture Minister said, “Vishwajit Rane is an efficient minister in the cabinet and he should expose the vested interests immediately and take action against them.”
He said his Goa Forward Party (GFP) would support Mr Rane if he did so.
Mr Sardesai said that he did not mind shifting of the wholesale fish market out of his constituency (which was raided by FDA).
“The market should be shifted elsewhere, possibly in the land owned by the FDA and the department (FDA) should run it,” he said.
The issue of formalin-in-fish rocked the state Legislative Assembly with the first two days of the monsoon session being washed out as the opposition Congress created ruckus in the House.