GUWAHATI: The Assam government today banned import and sale of fish from other states for a period of 10 days following tests on samples that showed presence of cancer causing chemical formalin.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Pijush Hazarika told reporters here that samples of fish imported from other states he had collected on June 29, after visiting various fish markets in Guwahati, tested to have traces of formalin.
The minister said all fish imported from Andhra Pradesh and other states were banned for 10 days beginning today.
Imports would be allowed only after it was found that they do not have any formalin content or the importers themselves give assurance that the practice of using the dangerous chemical has been stopped, he said.
The district magistrates and food safety officers have been asked to ensure such fish with formalin are not sold in the markets from tomorrow while the ban is in force, he said.
Anyone violating the ban or found using formalin to preserve the fish for longer period would face punitive legal action with arrests and jail terms ranging from two to seven years and fines of up to Rs 10 lakh, Hazarika warned.
The samples collected by the minister were sent for laboratory tests following reports of fish traders using large amounts of formalin to preserve the fish.
Hazarika said that the ban will be revoked only after conducting more lab tests until it showed showed formalin negative.
He also warned traders of punitive action, including arrests and prison terms up to seven years and hefty fines as high as Rs 10 lakh, if they did not desist from using formalin.
Formalin is used for the preservation of biological specimens and embalming, which is a funeral custom of treating human remains to delay their decomposition.