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Wholesale fish traders to hold protest march in Panjim

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  1. Ban formalin not fish, says traders
  2. Gives deadline till Saturday
  3. Minister Rane says nothing doing

Team Spotlight

GOA (Margao) The wholesale fish traders and those vending the product have demanded that the production of formalin itself should be banned, and not the fish.

The traders held a meeting in Margao town this morning following which they resolved to held a protest march against State government in the capital city on Saturday.

“We are giving two days time for the State government to invite us and negotiate and listen to our demands. The current decision by State Food and Drugs Administration department has affected more than 10,000 families which are dependent on this business,” said Ibrahim Maulana, President, Whole Sale Fish Market Association, a body representing the trade in the State.

State FDA has stopped allowing trucks without proper licence from them from entering the State in order to rule out the fear of formalin laced with fish being imported in the State.

The department has also made it mandatory that only the trucks with insulated body will be allowed to transport fish.

“All these conditions has resulted in total ban on the import of fish in the State. We agree to complete formality of FDA and get the licence but some agencies like municipalities and Planning and Development Authority whose certificates are mandatory are unwilling to cooperate,” he said.

Maulana said that the traders had approached the municipalities and South Goa Planning and Development Authority with the application for NOC but they refused to give.

“The wholesale fish business has almost stopped. We are going the same way, the mining industry in the State has gone,” he said.

Maulana said that all the wholesale fish traders from across the State who had gathered for the meeting in Margao have unanimously decided to hold protest march in Panaji city on Saturday.

“We are not blackmailing the government but we are facing genuine issue,” he said.

The wholesale fish traders suggested that Central government should ban production of formalin chemical itself as they have done for 2,000-odd drugs so that the fear of it (formalin) being used as a preservative for fish would be completely ruled out.

“Ban formalin not the fish,” he said.

Maulana said that the impact of current situation is seen in the markets where the fish prices have soared. “The tourism industry which also banks on fish to attract customers will also be affected in near future,” he said.

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In the Spotlight

FC Goa may look at partially moving out of Goa

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FC Goa may look to play some “home games” in Odisha & Maharashtra to avoid paying huge fees for Fatorda matches; writes to CM saying “its unviable” to stage matches in Goa anymore

Team Spotlight

GOA (Panjim) Frustrated at police and traffic bandobast bills, for their home games at the Fatorda stadium in Goa, which are more than double of other venues, FC Goa may look at moving out of GoaIt isn’t quite official, but at least two states are thinking of inviting Goa’s own team FC Goa to play some games on their home turf where the Jaidev Modi backed Goa team, will not have to pay close to half a crore of rupees for each game. According to sources, Odisha has already signed an MOU for the youth, women and some other teams to play in the state. It is learnt that Kholapur, not far from the state’s northern border and the Odisha government led by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik are absolutely open for FC Goa to play their home matches on their turf.

The FC Goa management has written to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, stating that is becoming “unviable” to continue to have matches at the Fatorda stadium in Goa. It has stated that if costs of personnel and the stadium hire cost of RS 7.5 lakhs per match is not reduced, FC Goa “will be compelled” to play their matches in some other state.

The FC Goa management, importantly is looking at possible ways to reduce their costs. It clearly is paying more than double to the state government for staging matches in Fatorda than almost every other city/ state based football team in the ISL. It is shocking that one of the smallest states in the competition is causing the biggest headaches to a team which is seen as one of Goa’s major sporting and even social unifiers. Last week’s incident of a young man in his twenties, Lester D Souza and his parents Seby and Tina, getting mercilessly thrashed by the Goa police inside the Fatorda stadium, during the games, has left Goan football fans fuming. The club too, was dragged into the controversy, while it was already smarting under excessive bills heaped on them from season one and slapped on them in quick succession. They were forced to settle Rs 7. 3 crores out of the billed amount of Rs 9.7 cr from season 1 (2014).

According to documents available with The Goa Spotlight, the FC Goa management, which was earlier with Srinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaonkar (and others) and now subsequently with the Deltin group, the club was billed Rs 1.5 crores. In 2015, this rose to Rs 3.2 crores. In 2016 this came down to Rs 1.7 crores but then jumped back to Rs 3.3 crores in 2018.

A scrutiny of the bills, of two of the seasons, in possession of The Goa Spotlight presents a strange and interesting pattern. The bills presented to “The Goan Football Club Pvt ltd ( the company which owned the club at that stage and stages the matches) for 2016 ( October 8 to Dec 12) are as follows Rs 1.09 crores ( Rs 1,09, 65,664) “towards personnel provided for police bandobast duty” and Rs 63.5 lakhs (Rs 63,56,372)  “towards Goa police personnel for traffic arrangements”, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda, the home ground for all of FC Goa’s matches . These bills were not cleared earlier and have landed on the desk of senior personnel of the current management of FC Goa, primarily owned by the Deltin group.

The bills for 2017-18 are a quantum leap presented to FC Goa. The police bandobast bills amounted to Rs 2.86 crores (Rs 2,686,90,048), more than double of the previous year, whereas the bill for traffic management was marginally lower at Rs 52.1 lakhs (Rs 52,10,220) making the overall expense virtually double of the previous year

The mounting bills has led to the club management taking up the issue very strongly with the Sports and Tourism Minister Babu Ajgaonkar who has accepted a representation from the club to have a “fair value”. The club has pointed out that a figure of Rs 75 to 85 lakhs per season is what other cities charge and FC Goa would be willing to pay even above that. However it has called for a practical and pragmatic amount.

The state government has now formed a committee including of  Michael D Souza, Addl Secretary Finance and Secretary to the Chief Minister and  Sports Ashok Kumar, to work out a proposal.

However, the onus is on the Goa police, to justify the use of over 600 personnel and for the government to justify why the club should be charged for 2 shifts when personnel are deployed mainly for two hours (5 pm to 7 pm) during the first shift and four hours  (7 pm to 11 pm) for the second shift and the club billed the same for both durations.

 

Speaking to The Goa Spotlight IG Goa Jaspal Singh explained the stand of the police “ Deployment of personnel, for a private commercial event needs to be charged. When we get personnel from other states, we are billed. Even when we get forces for elections from outside states, we need to pay”. When pointed out that the issue was not with paying but the rates charged and the fluctuating rates for the same personnel every year, he said rates are decided and finalised by the government and not by the police department.

Asked why Goa’s rates are so much higher than other states, including the big ones, the IG said “Some states can afford to give forces pro-bono, Goa being  a small state, since its resources are minimal has different rates. It’s a demand and supply issue”

But it can’t be understood how these rates can be doubled, year to year without any justification.

Reacting to this, FC Goa personnel feel that the onus has to be taken by the police to right size the deployment and not be rigid about a circular which states that even if a minute is used from a shift of four hours, the client will be charged for the entire duration of the shift. “Unless the finance department is made aware of the problem and the genuine need to solve it, this will never be done. And without the risk of sounding alarming, does Goa really want, its football team to move out of the state, a sport which unifies Goans. All it takes it some fairness in rates compared to other states, so that we can afford to stage matches here”, said an official of the company.

With the ISL taking a break for close to two months, there is time for the issue to be solved. Conversely, it also gives FC Goa time to think of other options.

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No ban on fish compliant with safety guidelines

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No ban for safe fish, imports of fish maintaining food safety standards to come in unhindered

Short Summary

1 Six month clause on fish ban lifted

2 Shall not apply to any person carrying on fish business as trader/ transporter or in any manner dealing with fish, who has complied with the Food Safety and standard act and Rules and Regulations

3 Importers must take licenses under Food Safety and Standards Act, Rules and Regulations

Team Spotlight

GOA: In an amended order the government has effectively allowed the import of fish, which is complaint with well established standards of safety compliance.

The entire controversy over the ban on the import of fish in the state has been taking twists and turns every passing day, fuelled by the political powers.

The latest development is that State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, after announcing that the ban on import would be for six months, has issued a circular stating that the wholesale traders can comply with the FDA guidelines, any time, and resume their activities., while there will be ban on import of fish from other states, which do not comply with food safety guidelines, which is stating the obvious.

The decision to impose a complete ban in fish imports resulted in soaring prices of fish, especially at the onset of the wedding season in Goa, not just caused unease in Goa, but also forced the Chief Secretaries of Karnataka and Maharashtra to cal up the Chief Secretary of Goa and ask for some lead time before a total ban in the movement of vehicles from their states to Goa to stop. A ban on imports would have a domino effect on the neighbouring states. Taking all these factors into consideration, the government decided to calibrate the ban, to link it to compliance of food quality standards rather than a blanket ban.

The circular, issued by Maria Seomara De Souza, Under Secretary Health states :” “The Government, in continuation of circular and corrigendum… hereby imposes ban on the import of fish into the state with immediate effectr. However, this ban shall not apply to any person carrying on fish business as trader/ transporter or in any manner dealing with fish, who has complied with the Food Safety and standard act and Rules and Regulations framed there under, including taking necessary licenses/registration as the case may be under the Food Safety and Standards Act, Rules and Regulations

If we go into a flashback, the fear stems from the incident when FDA official Iva Fernandes certified that there was formalin in the fish which is imported in the State. The world of fish eaters was turned upside down with the revelation.

The ultimate target was President of Margao Wholesale Fish Market Association Ibrahim Maulana and also Fatorda MLA and Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai.

The Congress was quick enough to earn mileage from the controversy and when Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in July, for the first time, imposed ban on the import of the fish. The fortnight long ban was lifted but it failed satisfy the doubts of fish eating population. The markets began showing declining trends.

Rane took upon him to convince people that the fish is safe to eat. He took the help of scientists from the centre to showcase that there was no formalin. But Goenkars refused to accept his logic.

The end result was the discreet efforts to ban the imports. Sardesai has been consistently demanding that the fish imports should be banned. The idea of International Standard Laboratory to test the chemicals on the fish was mooted. Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu also announced the setting up of the laboratory.

The fear of formalin in fish translated in large scale decline in the business. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) finally decided to impose the ban. However the highest echelons of the bureaucracy warned that the move to completely ban fish imports would have a severe impact on tourism. With fish prices soaring die to the shortage of both local and imported fish, the situation was reaching boiling point.

The amended order would leave scope for imports and it would be incumbent upon importers to ensure compliance of standards and for the government to ensure mechanisms for quality control.

Health Minister announced that the ban would be for six months and finally ended up banning it till FDA guidelines are completed.

In the entire episode, the real question remained unanswered. Was formalin really found in the fish. If yes, then why no action is taken against the wholesale traders?

Ibrahim has been named as one of the main accused in the social circles, but there are no evidences to nail him, at least before the public. The FDA results indicating formalin in the fish were withdrawn.

State government has refused that there was formalin in the fish, so there is no question of punishing anyone.

Initially, the game-plan  by Rane to downplay the ever-increasing political presence of Sardesai in the State, was considered as the reason for entire controversy.

Sardesai has remained firm in his stand from day one, and even went to the extend of demanding ban on import. The presence of wholesale fish market in his constituency and supposed friendship with Ibrahim are the only two factors that roped in Sardesai in the nexus. Otherwise, the fish or fish testing is not his department.

Rane has been changing his stand often. He has been taking the stand as per public demand. While entire controversy seems to be far from dying down, it is certain that Rane will have to face the battle alone. The wholesale fish traders have said that they are ready to comply with the FDA guidelines.

But just having a licence to bring in fish will address the main issue of formalin in the fish? Why there is no FDA laboratory in the fish market? Who will check whether the fish is clean or chemically laced?

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Francis is back in Goa, fears that he might be raided by Central Agencies

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Team Spotlight

GOA:  BJP MLA and former Minister  Francis D’Souza who arrived from his two month long treatment in Goa on Wednesday feared that he might be raided by central  agencies for speaking against his own party.

The 63-year-old Mapusa MLA was dropped by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar from his cabinet owing to the ill-health. After his sacking, D’Souza had expressed dissatisfaction over the move. He had said that he was feeling cheated.

The MLA returned from the USA following his two month long stay.

He said that he has been suffering from Cancer which is currently arrested from spreading further through the treatment.

Talking to reporters after his return from the USA, D’Souza feared that he might have to face raid from central agencies.

“For last twenty years, I have not been in the news for wrong reasons  I don’t know what will happen from tomorrow onwards,” said D’Souza, who was the Law Minister in the Parrikar cabinet before being dropped.

“I might get raided by Income Tax, Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate  or I may be even booked under National Security Act for speaking against the party,” he said.

The former minister alleged that his ex-party colleague and minister in Laxmikant Parsekar led government, Ramesh Tawadkar, was raided by Income Tax after he spoke against the party.

“Laxmikant Parsekar has also received notice from the income tax, authorities” he said. However this could not be independently verified from Mr Parsekar

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