DOUBTS: The fact that the over hundred trucks reported to have checked by the FDA at the border showed no signs of formalin-preserved fish has raised doubts over the honesty and competence of the FDA
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
Dr Francisco Colaço, veteran social activist and eminent echocardiologist, is determined to mobilize all fish loving Goans to remove any blockages to niz Goenkars getting pure formalin-free unadulterated nuste
Eminent echocardiologist Dr Francisco Colaço is agitated about several blocks in the arteries of the heart of Goa.
It is bad enough that Goa’s arteries have historically been choked with iron ore dust from mines and coal dust from the huge quantities of coal imported for the benefit of the Adanis’ and the Jindals’ industrial units in Karnataka.
It was bad enough that TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai conspired to destroy green Goa and the beaches of Goa by amending the Town & Country Planning Act and lobbying for the no-construction-zone under the CRZ to be reduced to just 50 metres instead of the present 200 metres.
It is bad enough that the minority communities in particular have been very badly affected by the closure of the Goa Meat Complex which used to supply beef — a staple of the minority Catholic and Muslim communities and equally enjoyed by some sections of the Hindu community.
What enraged Dr Franciso Colaço afresh is the attempts by wholesale fish import agents like Ibrahim Sheikh to strike at the heart of Goa. The heart of Goa is xitt kodi. Goans can live without chicken, pork, beef and even onions when there is a shortage and prices shoot up — but they cannot live without their favourite xitt kodi! Most Goan families, whether Hindu or Catholic, eat fish both for lunch and dinner.
We know a former senior Goan air force officer posted in Jodhpur, who used to send air force pilots to Jamnagar on training missions only to get fresh fish for himself and other families. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar used to fly down every weekend, and sometimes during the week, because he missed his favourite fish curry. Fish is as vital to the life and welfare and happiness of Goa as rice is to the Madrasi and wheat is to the Punjabi.
Dr Colaço is furious that the traders, who were caught red handed by the FDA while importing formalin fish into Goa, have got away scot free, and Ibrahim, the president of the Fish Importers Association, has not been arrested for trying to poison the people of Goa. He is rightly upset with all the 40 MLAs and particularly the Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai who pressurized the FDA to change its report.
Dr Colaço is enraged with the misinformation spread by Health Minister Viswajit Rane that formalin is found naturally in fish. This despite top microbiologists, including the apex body for fisheries in Cochin, confirming that formalin is an external agent which can cause cancer. He later recanted after public opinion crucified him but that is beside the point. As health minister he cannot and should not make such irresponsible statements!
Formalin is a deadly chemical which is used to preserve dead bodies in a morgue. That formalin even taken in small quantities can cause cancer has been confirmed by the US Federal Drug Authority (FDA). Indeed it is entirely possible that Manohar Parrikar himself is now suffering from an advance stage of pancreatic cancer because of all the formalin-preserved fish he has consumed, imported by Ibrahim Sheikh and company, with the blessing of Vijai Sardesai.
Not only Dr Colaço but all niz goenkars are upset that Parrikar, who had declared that the import of fish that have been banned for 15 days, made a u-turn when three trucks of fish were caught in Cuncolim. Parrikar then clarified in the Assembly that only the sale and consumption of fish have been banned and not the import of fish.
Why is a fish lover like Manohar Parrikar, who knows that Goans cannot live without fish, abetting and aiding those who want to kill Goans with poisoned fish? This is because for politicians — including the so-called highly educated IIT chief minister of Goa — his kodel as chief minister is more important than the life of the people of Goa. This could be seen when Parrikar refused to even temporarily give up his kodel when he was on treatment for cancer in New York for three months. Parrikar is all set to go back to New York and will not probably appoint an acting chief minister this time also.
Fortunately for Goans, the two most likely candidates for the acting chief minister’s post (who are extremely corrupt) are not medically fit to become acting chief minister. Sudin Dhavalikar is reportedly yet to recover fully from a heart attack and a liver transplant. Minister for Urban Development Francis D’Souza, is on dialysis after a kidney transplant that he underwent in Malaysia failed.
The RSS of course will in any case not accept a Catholic as chief minister. Parrikar does not trust any of his Cabinet colleagues to run Goa in his absence, which is why he has been insisting on keeping the remote control with him in New York or wherever he goes for treatment.
SUPER FAST FDA
After the lifting of the ban on the import of fish from other states, hundreds of trucks have been arriving at the border every morning between 1 am and 4 am. In theory the FDA is supposed to check random samples from every truck to check if they are formalin-preserved. Even with the kits they have now gotten from the Fisheries Research Centre at Cochin it is not possible to check over 50 trucks thoroughly in such a short span of time. Nobody trusts the FDA after they changed their original report of formalin in imported fish, under pressure.
The public of Goa continues to boycott fish imported from outside the state. They may look fatter and fresher than local fish, but some report instances where worms have been found when the fish are cut. The question of course is why Goa needs fish imports when the catch by Goan trawlers is more than enough to meet requirements of both locals and tourists. The answer is the unpleasant admission by people-in-the-know that 70% of high value premium fish like prawns and pomfrets are exported to foreign countries by Goan trawler owners.
Not surprisingly, no formalin or any other harmful preservatives have been found in fish exported to foreign countries because they have to meet very strict standards and exporters cannot bribe foreign politicians and bully foreign FDA officials as they do in Goa.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Dr Francisco Colaço is in the process of starting a mass movement to ensure the safety and security of the lives of fish-loving Goans. He understands that the only language that politicians understand is the anger of the people. Not the anger of a 100 people or a 1,000 people or even 5,000 people, but the anger of at least 10 lakhs niz goenkars of Goa. Dr Colaço, with the help of Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar, Anand Madgaokar, Reginald Lourenco, and other activists, is trying to mobilize Goans to permanently stop the import of fish from others states.
Dr Colaço is mobilizing people to ban the export of fish (except for varieties which are not consumed by the Goans). Above all Dr Colaço wants the checking of all fish — whether imported fish, caught by Goan trawlers, or even those which are preserved in deep freezers by fancy supermarkets — to be done by an independent agency, which will not bow down to pressure from the political class.
All niz goenkars and indeed even the millions of tourists who come to Goa should join in and support the good dotor of Goa.