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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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73.2 percent polling in Telangana

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Hyderabad, Dec 8 (IANS) The Election Commission on Saturday announced that 73.20 percent polling was registered in the Telangana Assembly elections on Friday.

The announcement came more than 24 hours after the polling ended in all 119 constituencies.

Suspense continued throughout the day over the final figure of voter turnout.

Teangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajath Kumar had stated late Friday that 67 percent polling was recorded at 5 p.m. Since those standing in queues were allowed to vote even after 5 and this process continued for four to five hours in some polling centres, the final figure was estimated at 69.1 percent.

Over 2.8 crore people were eligible to vote.

According to a statement released by Election Commission Saturday night, among 31 districts, Yadadri Bhongir recorded the highest turnout of 90.95 percent.

Hyderabad recorded lowest turnout of 48.89 percent. This was earlier estimated at 50 percent. Most constituencies around Hyderabad also recorded low turnout of 50-55 percent.

The rural areas recorded heavy polling with many constituencies witnessing over 80 percent turnout.

According to reports received till Friday evening, Madhira constituency in Khammam district registered the highest turnout of 91.65 percent. The lowest 40.18 percent was recorded in Charminar constituency in Hyderabad.

This was the first Assembly elections in India’s youngest state. The previous elections were held in united Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and Telangana had recorded a turnout of 68.9 percent.

Counting of votes will be taken up on December 11.

–IANS
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