Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has said that the state government will defend its stand on ban on import of fish in the High Court.
The Health Minister was speaking in view of the fish exporters challenging the state government’s order of ‘ban’ on fish import in the court on Friday.
“I want to send a clear message that the ban on fish imports will not be revoked as I have to look at the safety and protection of the people of Goa. If anybody wants to approach the court, let them do so. We will defend our stand in the court,” said Rane.
He was interacting with media persons on the sidelines of a conference organised by Goa Institute of Management in the city on Ayushman Bharat and its implications for universal health coverage in India.
Rane said that the government will not succumb to the pressure tactics as the ban has been imposed in the interest of the people and that threats from anybody will not make any difference.
“Ban will remain and illegal import of fish will not be permitted in Goa,” he stated.
“The government is following rules and regulations. It is very clearly mentioned in the Food Safety Act that transportation through insulated vehicles is needed,” he added.
The seafood exporters in the petition filed before the court have contended that exports come under the purview of the central government and the state government does not have powers under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India Act to issue such order.
They have informed the court that they have all other approvals of the government. And they have fish testing facilities at their respective processing units and the same reports are cross-verified by the national agencies and hence the question of obtaining transport licence from the state does not arise.
The exporters have also contended that they don’t supply the imported fish consignment to the local market and they are directly exported outside the state and foreign countries from the processing units.
“Even if tomorrow we obtain transportation licence, will it ensure that fish is formalin free…Is government testing fish?” questioned one exporter while speaking to this daily.
He said that all exporters maintain international standards over safety and quality of fish. “If our fish contained formalin then foreign importers would have banned our products,” he added.
Earlier, speaking during the inaugural function of the conference explaining the paradoxes that exist in the country’s healthcare landscape, Indu Bhushan, CEO, Ayushman Bharat said, “India has invested in the public healthcare sector for the last 70 years yet the needs of 70 per cent of the population are met by the private sector,” he said.
Similarly, while there have been significant efforts to alleviate poverty, close to 6 crore people are driven into poverty each year due to healthcare expenses. While India is one of the fastest growing economies, yet the government spend is low. Ayushman Bharat will address these paradoxes, he added.
“The ambitious programme aims to offer access to affordable healthcare to the people who need it the most while also offering financial protection from high expenses on healthcare. The programme will also generate employment and create healthcare infrastructure including hospitals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities,” he explained further.