It’s been 108 days since Goans lost their confidence in the fish that the State imported over the years but the concerned government department, coalition partners, their friendly fish merchants and now even the Centre has been trying to weave tales after tales. There’s just one problem. Much like American humorist, Mark Twain would say, “Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish”, the Goans don’t trust those bailo fish anymore. And so don’t they trust those ministers and coalition partners responsible for being a silent spectator whilst they (Goans) were generally fed carcinogens.
It’s been a little over three months since formalin was found by a handful of honest officers of the Food & Drug Administration Department of Government of Goa. Have you noticed how the ruling BJP as Goa’s leading party in the ruling dispensation has been quiet about the whole affair? From covering up the state of health of its Chief Minister to covering up the state of war within its own party that it tries to hide by buying out opposition MLAs to hiding the state of financial health of Goa’s economy, despite its legendary skills of ‘media management’; BJP has failed Goa. By hiding the truth, by misleading and now by deceiving. Every day over hundreds of tonnes of fish enter Goa and are consumed by the niz and the naturalised Goenkars. There has been a crisis of confidence amongst the people of Goa which the State has failed to address and no nobody is even considering the dramatics of the ministers. Not to forget the fact that the State’s Fisheries Minister from GFP has been mysteriously quiet and unheard. Why should the people believe in those imported fish then?
It’s been almost sixteen weeks since Goa’s Health Minister complained, “some people with vested interests are making money on fish imports and destroying lives of people. I would appeal to the State government to permanently ban the import of fish”, while a coalition partner questioned, “The point is the FDA should not be involved in shoot and scoot. I demand that the FDA conduct routine and regular checks. It should continue with the checks. We will support the FDA. And suppose the incident is repeated, we will have to go in for the decision of banning fish coming in from the other states… (but) Can’t the officer be wrong? Can’t the officers be pressurised to do wrong?” Now, in a stunning role reversal Health Minister (and his Central Minister for Commerce) says, “Fish import will not be banned” whilst Agriculture Minister insists, “The bureaucrats think the issue will die its own death and don’t want to ban fish import. I want the government to immediately ban it.” So what is this shadow boxing all about?
Dear Goans, did you notice how the FDA report by Iva Fernandes was so conveniently shelved and replaced by a more acceptable one by FDA Director Jyoti Sardesai herself? Did you notice how the man who is the kingpin of fish imports and distribution and was in the eye of the formalin-in-fish storm has been left out and now it is the fish traders who are the scapegoat? Have you noticed how Health Minister whose FDA failed to even do proper random checks at the border of fish trucks is shifting the focus of Goans to a state of art fish testing facility in Margao or wherever? So poisoned fish enters Goa and then gets tested? The truth seems more of a senior coalition partner bailing out a junior one in the interest of political convenience before a possible power shift or even a possible mid-term poll. It is only about political convenience, then the wellbeing of Goans. Did you notice the telltale signs?