BHUBANESWAR: Fish lovers beware! After Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, traces of cancer causing chemical formalin were found in an aquatic species sold in the City on Friday. A 12-member team of experts led by officials from the Fisheries and Animal Resources Development (FARD) department conducted raids in a fish market and Chilika Fresh outlets in the Capital. Test reports confirmed formalin content in fish sold in Unit-IV market. The carcinogenic substance tested positive in one of nine samples of fish including rohu, prawn, bhekti, mirkali, crab and pomfret.
Secretary, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development (FARD) Department, Vishal Gagan said the pomfret sample collected from shop number-3 of the market tested positive for formalin. “I have directed officials to go to the shopkeeper to ascertain the source and destroy his stocks if any,” he said.
After the positive reports, the State Government has directed collectors to examine fish sold in their districts to find out formalin content. The districts which supply fish to different towns in the State have been put under surveillance.
“We have supplied testing kits to the districts to examine the fish samples. They will check fish species at regular intervals and make traders aware about the dangerous chemical. Action would be initiated against those involved in illegal practices,” Gagan warned.Health experts said as it is a carcinogenic chemical and has got the ability to produce serious health hazards like cancer in lung, nasopharynx, oropharynx and nasal passage, regulatory bodies should take necessary steps to stop formalin treatment of fish.
Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Minister Pradeep Maharathy said a task force will be formed in each district to prevent import of fish dipped in or sprayed with formalin.“I have discussed with Health Department and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) after the formalin content was found. They will keep a tab on fish imported from neighbouring States,” he said.
Odisha Government is also in touch with Assam Government to find out a possible solution to tackle the issue. On Wednesday, Assam Government had banned import and sale of fish from Andhra Pradesh and other States for 10 days as laboratory tests revealed the presence of formalin in the samples.On Thursday, Maharathy had directed Fisheries Secretary to conduct a probe and direct officials of Directorate of Fisheries to check the quality of fish imported from other States.