Finally, the state government on Tuesday came out with an order on the ‘ban’ on import of fish but it makes no mention of a total ban and on how safe fish will be provided to Goans.
The Health Minister Vishwajit Rane had last week announced that the government would enforce a ‘total ban’ on the import of fish from other states. But, the order issued by the Under Secretary of Health on Tuesday makes no mention of a total ban.
The said order seems to be more confusing than of a solution to the formalin-in-fish row as it neither spells out ‘total ban’ on fish import nor does it guarantee safe fish to locals with immediate effect.
The order states, “The government hereby imposes ban on the import of fish into the state of Goa with immediate effect. However, the ban shall not apply to any person carrying out fish business as trader or transporter or in any manner dealing with fish by complying with the Food Safety Standards Act and Rules and Regulations framed there under including taking necessary licences/registration as the case may be under the Food Safety Standards Act, Rules and Regulations.”
“The police department and transport department shall ensure enforcement of the above instructions scrupulously,” states the order issued by the under secretary of health Maria Seomara De Souza.
The latest order and the previous orders don’t specify whether the ‘ban’ is for only commercial use or also one is prohibited to bring in fish for self-consumption
in their private vehicles from border areas of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Moreover, the role of the Food and Drugs Administration has not been specified in the order issued by the health ministry even though the step is taken by the government to ensure supply of quality safe fish.
In a video message shared on WhatsApp, Rane said that the ‘ban’ is permanent and there is no specific time limit.
“We have decided that this ban will be for all kind of fish coming into the state without compliances or without registration in their respective states or in our state. The consignment will be confiscated and subsequently destroyed,” he said.
He further said that the government is ready to ‘facilitate’ all possible assistance to fish traders if they are ready to comply with the FSSAI Act and rules of the FDA.
“If there is no compliance of rules, there is no question of allowing outside fish into the Goa,” he said.
The transport department has claimed that they are ill-equipped to enforce the order of health department asking them to check the FDA certification of fish importers entering the state as they have neither been trained nor are they informed about such restriction in advance to get prepared for the implementation of the order.
The transport department official further said that they can only seize the vehicle if the authority informs them about the carcinogenic substance being used to preserve fish and even impose fine if found to be carrying incomplete documents.
On the other hand, till late evening, the police had not received the order issued by the Under Secretary (Health) in connection with ‘ban’ on fish import. However, a senior police officer said that police are always present on the check posts and whatever the order, it will be complied with and it will be communicated with the concerned police officials.
The Minister, on the other hand, said that the Health Secretary must have communicated with the Police department and Transport department.
Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’, the Health Minister informed that he will hold a joint meeting with the officials of the two departments on November 16.
It appears that the Health Minister has been focusing only on regulating the transportation of fish and very least is done so far to ensure that safe fish is offered to Goans as the government is yet to identify and finalise the place for setting up the world class laboratory of Export Inspection Council and Quality Council of India in the state.