This Fishy Business!
GOA is in the grip of fish scare. But don’t worry, the growing fear of having eaten polluted fish will subside. And we Goans tomorrow will forget about what we are blowing hot and cold today. That is the way things happen in Goa, and our politicians know it too well. We have a fishing ban, and yet we want business to go on as usual. We love our fish curry and so we import fish from outside Goa during the fishing ban period. Is the ban on fishing only symbolic? Or we do not understand the implications of it? Our politicians will find a solution to this problem – as they always do – in a way in which their pockets and suitcases do not become any lighter. This attitude of ours is seen in more than one activity, and has been a characteristic of the Goan life, visible in all its glory in the so-called development of our state. And that is why we have a swanky fish market full of fish contaminated with formalin. And, we are told differently than earlier – the formalin is within the permissible limits. With fish being imported from far away states, don’t we need chemical preservatives to make the fish look smart and taste edible? We can’t have it both ways, or can we?
JOAO BARROS-PEREIRA, CANSAULIM
FDA Blows Hot And Cold
THIS is with reference to the news reports on the presence of formalin chemical in the fish sold in the state. The FDA blew hot and cold over the exact extent of the chemical presence. It has been reported that henceforth the FDA will conduct tests on the fish brought from outside the state. Now the question arises is: what was the FDA doing all along? Had it not been testing the fish we get in our markets? Is fish not part of our diet? The use of formalin to preserve and store seafood has been known for a long time, with China being the main offenders for which reason the US had even banned the imports of seafood from that country.
S KAMAT, ALTO ST CRUZ
Bidding Adieu To Dada Vaswani
I wish to pay a tribute to spiritual leader Dada Vaswani who passed away recently 20 days before his 100th birthday. I first came to know about him when I was going through a bout of depression. I stepped into a library and purchased one of his books only to return eventually to purchase the entire collection of Vaswani’s books. His writings contain the distillation of the best from the holy books of all religions and the emphasis is on love and forgiveness. I also attended his spiritual discourses when he came down to Goa. His smiling visage, soft voice and firm argument immediately won the admiration of all. He was a humanist, philosopher, educator, orator and non-sectarian spiritual leader. We need to pay heed today, more than ever, to his teachings if we are to attain not only personal inner healing but also set as we are to heal the modern world where humanity is going through harrowing times. Peace be to his soul!
FRANCISCO COLAÇO, MARGAO
We Should Boycott Contaminated Fish
THE Foods and Drugs Administration acted well in raiding the fish markets in Panaji and Margao, where the fish imported from several states, including far-off Orissa, was found laced with formalin chemical considered to be carcinogenic and used as a preservative. In protest, Margao and Panaji fish markets closed down, and the Mapusa one too in solidarity. Not only did the culprits managed to shut down the markets in protest but also sought the intervention not of the Minister for Fisheries but of TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai. And immediately the FDA declared that the formalin found is within permissible limits, while Sardesai stated that no formalin was found. The questions that come to my mind are: why was formalin at all used and why should it be permitted within or beyond permissible limits, when it is known to be injurious to health? It has been alleged that a powerful non-Goan controls the Margao fish market with active support from an influential minister from South Goa. The fishing lobby is very powerful just as is the taxi, rickshaw, bus and many others which have large associations and are a vote-bank. They threaten and blackmail the government and compel it to yield to their demands. With a government and police that even fear the Nigerians, we may have to defend ourselves in future. With fish laced with preservatives, fruits ripened with chemicals, vegetables grown with pesticides and with an FDA which bows to the diktats of the irresponsible putting lives of people at risk, we will perhaps have to run away from this country where neither food nor life is safe. The FDA had destroyed large stocks of artificially ripened fruits but had taken no action against the culprits. Since Goans can no longer depend on the food being sold, as everything seems adulterated, it is time that we, the consumers ourselves, started taking action by boycotting the fish market for at least a week, if not till this month-end. We can surely survive without fish but the vendors cannot. Are we prepared to take this step or will we risk our health?
JOSE MARIA MIRANDA, MARGAO