Formalin-in-fish controversy re-erupts in Goa

Panaji: Amid the ongoing tussle between the Congress and the ruling BJP-led coalition government in Goa, the formalin-in-fish controversy raised its head again on Saturday, after Congress leaders, armed with testing kits, visited a popular fish market in South Goa and claimed that the fish sold there was still being contaminated with formalin.

Reacting to the Congress’ accusation, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane claimed that the Congress was trying to create panic among the fish-loving population of Goa and that raising the formalism bogey irresponsibly would severely impact Goa’s tourism industry.

“Our senior leaders visited the South Goa Planning and Development Authority fish market and when we tested some of the fish using formalin-testing kits, we found traces of the mortuary preservative. We will send the samples to the FDA soon,” Congress spokesperson Urfan Mulla told reporters.

The Congress leaders who conducted the inspection, in presence of everyday market-goers as well as party workers, included state Congress President Girish Chodankar, All India Congress Committee General Secretary A. Chellakumar and several Congress MLAs.

Reacting to the “inspection”, Rane lashed out at the state Congress President and said that the formalin scare would impact tourism in Goa.

“This guy, the so called state president of the Congress is creating a fear psychosis in the minds of the people. They will ruin the tourism and fishing industries in the state. We are grappling with a mining crisis and the Congress is trying to create another crisis,” Rane said.

“I want to ask Girish Chodankar? Are you an expert or are you a scientist. Just because you are Goa Congress President, you are a nobody. You have no knowledge, all you can do is shout aloud,” Rane added.

The controversy involving use of carcinogenic cadaver preservative in fish erupted in July this year, after a Food Drugs Administration team found traces of formalin in fish being sold in Goa. The BJP-led coalition government has been on the backfoot ever since, after several of its ministers were accused of allegedly protecting fish-traders who were allegedly importing formalin-laced fish consignments from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The re-eruption of the formalin controversy comes at a time, when the BJP-led coalition government is facing a leadership crisis, with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar battling advanced pancreatic cancer in a Delhi hospital. The Congress has already demanded dismissal of the Parrikar-led regime and has expressed confidence of having enough numbers to stake a claim to form a government.

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