Over a month after the formalin scare forced the Goa government to stop buying fish from other states, the stalemate ended on Thursday with nine trucks from Karnataka bringing fish into the wholesale market at Margao in south Goa.
State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said the trucks were given entry only after they were found abiding by all the guidelines laid down by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) department. "The import of fish into Goa from neighbouring regions can be permitted only after wholesale fish traders are found adhering to the FDA guidelines," he told reporters on Thursday.
The Goa FDA had banned the import of fish from other states on October 29 amid a growing concern over the alleged presence of formalin, a preservative that is believed to be carcinogenic. The FDA had directed the traders to secure a permit from the concerned authorities. Fish from neighbouring regions is brought into the wholesale market at Margao, from where it is distributed to other parts of Goa. "The Goa government will ensure that the wholesale traders follow all the rules and all the stringent measures are in place," the minister said.
"The mechanism has been put in place by the FDA to check the food safety standards of fish that is brought into the state," Rane stated. Besides the import, 10 trucks carrying fish also from Goa left for Karnataka without facing any hindrance from the neighbouring state, the minister said. Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had recently written to his Goa counterpart Manohar Parrikar requesting him to withdraw the ban imposed on the import of fish in the state. Responding to the letter, Rane had said that the ban would continue till traders comply with the FDA directives.
Margao Wholesale Fish Market Association, a body representing fish importers said that they will abide by all the regulations of the FDA. "We will abide by all the regulations of FDA. We are requesting Goans not to politicize the issue of fish. Whatever queries there are about fish that is imported can be answered by the association," president Ibrahim Maulana said. He was referring to the campaign launched by the opposition Congress against the import of fish.
Maulana said the FDA should put in place stringent checks at the wholesale fish markets, where it is sold. "The wholesalers will fully cooperate with the State government in ensuring that the quality fish is provided to the Goans," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)