Panaji: A complaint has been lodged with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) against the state’s health department for ‘illegally’ divesting Iva Fernandes of her powers as the South Goa designated officer of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
Highly placed sources in the health department said that the complaint has been addressed to the chief executive officer of the FSSAI against the order dated July 17, 2019, issued by Secretary Health J Ashok Kumar wherein the department appointed Richard Noronha, giving him the charge of the food safety administration of both, North Goa as well as South Goa districts.
In the particular order, Kumar failed to cite any reasons for Fernandes’ removal as the South Goa designated officer.
During the recently concluded monsoon session of the state Assembly, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane gave a statement in the media that Fernandes was relieved of her responsibilities after he received an inquiry report. He claimed that she was not authorised to speak to the media when her team raided the Margao wholesale fish market and exposed the presence of formalin, a cancer-causing agent, in the fish that had arrived from the neighbouring states on July 12, 2018. However, Rane has neither made the said inquiry report public nor specified as to under which rules the designated officers of the FDA are restricted from speaking to media.
Richard Noronha, who has been given the charge of both the districts has in the past spoken to media on camera on several occasions in his capacity as North Goa designated officer during site inspections of food joints prior to the formalin-in-fish row.
Hence, questions arise as to why the health department is not applying the same yardstick for both the officers.
Sources said that in the complaint, the central food safety regulatory body has been informed about the alleged harassment meted out to Iva Fernandes by FDA director Jyoti Sardesai.
The sources further said that informal communication has been received from FSSAI that they will be soon writing to the state government seeking a report from Chief Secretary Parimal Rai on the entire episode.