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Goa 'formalin' whistleblower alleges harassment by government


IANS Panaji
A whistleblower who busted a racket in July this year involving use of carcinogenic cadaver preserver, formalin, in fish sold in Goa, has alleged harassment by the state government, in a petition filed before the Goa Human Rights Commission.
Food and Drugs Administration officer Iva Fernandes, who busted the racket during a field test of fish samples imported from other states, in her affidavit filed before the Commission on Friday, has also demanded "examination of phone records" of senior officials of the department, which she said would establish their linkages to fish traders involved in using formalin to preserve fish stock.
"I have attached evidence duly signed by all officials of FDA, who were present at site for the purpose of carrying out the inspection with showed positive for trace of formalin in the fish, which instead of being attended with seriousness, I have been sought to be targeted," Fernandes said.
The controversy involving use of formalin in fish erupted in July this year. Fernandes found traces of formalin in fish being sold in Goa during a raid.
The BJP-led coalition government, has been on the back foot ever since, after several of its ministers were accused of allegedly protecting fish-traders who were allegedly importing formalin-laced fish consignments into Goa from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Fernandes has also claimed that she was not allotted duties for a considerable period of time after the expose, which forced her to approach the Commission.
After the scandal, the state government banned import of fish from neighbouring states, until fish traders registered with the state FDA and complied with its norms related to storage and transportation of fish. The ban has resulted in a considerable increase in the price of fish in Goa.
Fish is a staple diet consumed by a majority of the population of the coastal state, as well as the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the state every year.

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First Published: Dec 28 2018 | 10:28 PM IST

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