Congress party in the state on Saturday demanded a ban on the import of fish after it claimed that several samples of fish it had tested showed presence of formalin.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) members visited the Margao’s SGPDA market on Saturday to test the fish purchased by locals for the presence of formalin.
Of the several samples tested, the party claimed that around seven samples tested positive for formalin. The tests were undertaken using testing kits to check for the presence of formalin and ammonia in fish. The party said that they will take the testing mechanism to the Margao’s wholesale fish market next. Members of the Congress party including several South Goa MLAs said that the samples tested would be sent to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for further testing.
Speaking to media persons, GPCC president Girish Chodankar said that the testing was undertaken to create awareness among people and demanded that the state government stop the import of fish until a suitable mechanism is in place to check the quality of fish.
“This is not the final test. We are creating awareness among people and waking up the government to this issue. We stick to our demand that all import of fish from the neighbouring states should be stopped till a right testing mechanism is put in place,” he said adding that further tests would be performed on samples that have tested positive using the HiRapid test kits developed by Central Institute of Fisheries Technology at Kochi.
The testing on Saturday was undertaken outside the SGPDA market and several customers, who had bought fish that tested positive for formalin were seen going back to the market to return the fish.
Angered by the customers returning fish, fish vendors were seen arguing with Congress party members including Congress Goa in-charge Dr A Chellakumar and Curtorim MLA Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco. The vendors argued that it was not they who used formalin but that the chemical originated at the wholesale fish market. Lourenco later said that the party members would visit the wholesale market to test the fish there.
“Performing such tests at the wholesale market would involve a lot of effort and we need to go there at 3 in the morning. But we will go. Right now we don’t have the ‘weapons’ to check for formalin and the FDA is not giving us what is required, but we will do it,” he said.
Lourenco also challenged Health Minister Vishwajit Rane to supply him with fish testing kits to check quality of fish supplied in the market if he claims that the Congress party has used faulty kits to check the fish. Speaking to the media in Loutolim, Lourenco said, “The government should not allow contaminated fish to please the fish mafias. This government has no concern for the health of the people of Goa. I challenge the Health Minister to send us fish checking kits and with the use of the kits we will prove that the fish that is available in the retail and wholesale fish markets is laced with formalin.”
Lourenco said that though Vishwajit is his personal friend, there can be no compromise on the issue of formalin. “I am ready to come with the minister and FDA officials in the fish market to check the fish. Let us not fool the people. People have elected us to serve them and not to cheat them,” he said.
Nuvem MLA Wilfred D’Sa, Cuncolim MLA Clafacio Dias and Tivim MLA Nilkanth Haldankar along with Congress Mahila president Pratima Coutinho and other leaders of the party were present when the tests were performed.