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Fish traders confronting police personnel at the FDA office in Bambolim on Friday

Traders gherao FDA official over seizure of Karwar fish

PANAJI: Stating that Health Minister Vishwajit Rane is destroying the fishing industry in the state, agitated fish traders, trawler owners and fish agents on Friday gheraoed an official of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) over the seizure of fish consignment that came into the state from Karwar.

They demanded an explanation as to why the fish consignment was seized and destroyed by the FDA at the garbage treatment plant in Saligao.

The traders claimed that six of their trucks carrying fish consignments from Goa to Kerala were stopped midway by fishermen in Karwar on Friday in reaction to the action taken by FDA.

It is alleged that on December 10, 2018, a fish consignment worth Rs 4 to 6 lakh was seized from a vehicle by FDA officials. The vehicle had entered the state from Karwar.

The Health Minister said that the consignment was brought into Goa without complying with the FDA requirements; hence the action was initiated by officials of the FDA.

As FDA director Jyoti Sardesai and designated officers of the department were not available in the office, the fishermen gheraoed Assistant Drug Controller Medha Desai and sought a clarification from her on the entire issue.

Desai could not answer, as she was not the concerned officer, who dealt with the enforcement. However, she managed to get the required file from the residence of the concerned officer, who was on off-duty, after almost five hours and read out the report giving details about the seizure of the fish consignment in police protection. Copy of the report was not given to the fishermen and instead, they were asked to ask for the copy under RTI Act.

“The vehicle in which the fish consignment was brought had the insulation facility and it was also formalin-free and if there were any shortcomings then they should have sent back the vehicle…why there was a need to destroy their consignment which was worth lakhs of rupees,” questioned Harshad Dhond, who was leading the fishermen.

He claimed that around 2,000 people assembled in Karwar and were stopping trucks carrying fish consignments from Goa, supposed to be exported to Kerala.

“Apart from just issuing statements, the Health Minister is doing nothing and he has proved to be a failure in resolving this issue. For the past one month, he has been saying that modalities are being worked out to give relaxation to small fish traders from close areas of state borders, but till date there is no sign of any action in this regard,” Dhond said. He said that the fishermen including traders will hold a joint meeting and decide on the future course of action.

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