The Assam government has issued a blanket ban on import of fish from outside Assam for a period of 10 days from today.
These are locally known as ‘chalani’ fish and their sale in markets across the State have also been banned for 10 days.
The ban came in the wake of samples collected from the wholesale fish market at Betkuchi here testing positive for presence of formalin.
The samples had been collected from the Betkuchi market on June 29 and sent for testing at the State Public Health Laboratory, Bamunimaidan. The results of the tests came yesterday.
Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Pijush Hazarika told reporters that as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, trace of formalin should not be present in any food item. “So we have taken the decision that for next 10 days no chalani fish will be allowed in to the State. Besides, from tomorrow sale of chalani fish across the State is banned for 10 days,” he said.
He said that chalani fish will be allowed in to the State and sold in Assam after the 10-day period but traders will have to ensure that they do not contain any trace of formalin.
Hazarika said that the drive to test fish will continue and if any person is found to be violating the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, he or she is viable to face imprisonment of up to 7 years and fine of Rs 10 lakh.
Hazarika said that as the quantum of local fish produced in Assam is much less than the demand it would be impractical to go for a permanent ban of chalani fish.
“However, we also cannot let the people of the State face any health hazard due to formalin-laced fish. People of Assam need chalani fish but there must be no formalin in such items,” he said.
The minister added that he will hold talks with the Food and Civil Supplies Minister to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not fleece customers by citing shortage of fish in the market following the 10-day ban on chalani fish.