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Goa FDA flips flops on formaldehyde use in fish, after minister’s tweet

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Panaji, July 12 (IANS) Multiple raids on wholesale fish markets in Goa stoked controversy after a spot inspection by Food Drug Administration staff revealed a carcinogenic preservative formaldehyde’s presence in fish, but after a minister’s tweet giving a clean chit to the wholesalers, on Thursday claimed that the chemical’s levels were within permissible limits.

The raids were conducted at the state’s main wholesale market near Margao town in South Goa and in the fish market in the state capital on Monday. Following the raids, fish markets associations closed down the market places in protest for the rest of the day.

The Goa FDA, in a statement issued here on Thursday, said that the raids were conducted after media reports suggested that the fish being sold at the wholesale markets was laced with formaldehyde to preserve the fish for long periods. Similar raids have been conducted at wholesale fish markets by FDA units in other states to crackdown on use of formalin to store fish.

“Team visited the wholesale fish market at Margao and collected samples of fish mainly from vehicles from other states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The samples tested positive, showing presence of formaldehyde.

“Hence as an abundant precaution, the fish vendors were instructed not to distribute the stock of fish till such time the detailed laboratory reports were available,” the statement said, adding that the samples of fish were later taken to the organisation’s laboratory for analysis.

“The results obtained for all the samples are found within permissible limits. The samples are thus declared to be safe for consumption. The whole process of sampling as well as detained analysis was undertaken on top priority basis, keeping in ind the perishable nature of fish,” it added.

The raids however took a political turn, with Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai taking to Twitter to claim that the fish samples were safe for consumption even as FDA officials were still compiling their laboratory reports.

“Any knee-jerk action aimed at creating panic is uncalled for. Have spoken to the CM and concerned authorities expressing this view. Thankfully, FDA has now confirmed that reports indicate fish showing no trace of formalin and hence safe,” he tweeted.

The Congress has now accused Sardesai of playing with the lives of people of Goa for whom fish is a part of a staple diet and coercing the FDA officials into releasing a manipulated test report.

“They are playing with the lives of Goans by allowing fish with formaldehyde. This fish mafia should be taken to task… The minister has virtually coerced the FDA staff to give favourable results by giving the fish mafia a clean chit, even before the test results were declared,” Congress spokesperson Urfan Mulla said.

Cheap and fresh fish was the poll plank of several political parties in Goa in the run up to the 2017 assembly polls.

–IANS
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Action on ‘war footing’ for conserving Taj Mahal: Government

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New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) After being rapped by the Supreme Court over the condition of the Taj Mahal, the government on Monday said that it will take action on “war footing” to deal with air and water pollution in and around the world-famous 17th-century Mughal monument.

The assurance came after a a high-level inter-ministerial meeting here, chaired by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and attended by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and state Minister Satyapal Singh, where the steps to tackle yellowing of the Taj Mahal and controlling Yamuna pollution were discussed.

Addressing a press conference, Gadkari announced that the Centre has decided to adopt several measures for preserving the heritage such as introduction of green fuels, e-buses, opening more ethanol industries and cleaning of river Yamuna.

“To deal with air pollution the use of bio fuel, green fuel and electric vehicles will be popularised in Agra,” he said.

“An ethanol policy will be introduced for Agra which will include conversion of bio mass to ethanol during the crop burning season and use of ethanol in auto rickshaws combined with introduction of mass rapid transport system as a part of policy of zero tolerance to pollution,” he added.

A committee to be headed by headed by Union Environment Secretary C. K. Mishra will be formed to look into the issue of industrial pollution which will also include experts from NEERI, IITs and other environment oriented organizations

“The committee will study on case to case basis and take a tough stand on hazardous industries in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal,” the minister said.

To deal with the water pollution in the Yamuna, Gadkari said the cleaning of the Yamuna falls under the Namami Ganga project and several projects are already been taken up to make the river pollution free.

“(A total of) 36 projects of Rs 4,000 crore on the river Yamuna have been identified and it is hoped that the DPRs (detailed project reports) will be completed in next few months. Already 11 projects have started in Delhi on the river Yamuna and the tender for the 12th project will be finalised soon,” he added.

–IANS
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