Tripura stops fish import from Bangladesh
Special Reporter:A minister of Agartala on Friday said, after traces of formalin were found in imported fish, the government of Indian state of Tripura has banned imports from Bangladesh through its seven Land Customs Stations (LCSs).
The state's Health and Revenue Minister Badal Choudhury said the preservative -- formalin or formaldehyde, mixed with water and used for preservation of biological specimens -- was found in fish imported from Bangladesh. It is dangerous for human consumption.
"Health officials have been asked to take stringent valid action against those using formalin and other illegal preservatives.
"The government has asked customs and other authorities to prevent the import of fish from Bangladesh through the seven LCSs, except the Agartala-Akhaura Integrated Check Post (ICP)," Choudhury told IANS news agency.
The seven LCSs are in Agartala, Srimantapur, Khowaighat (western Tripura), Kamalpur, Old Raghnabazar (northern Tripura), Belonia and Sabroom (in southern Tripura). Agartala-Akhaura ICP is the second-largest trading point along the India-Bangladesh border after Petrapole-Benapole land border in West Bengal.
"Since no adequate infrastructure and manpower is present at the seven LCSs, import of fish through these border points would be risky," he said. Choudhary said that following media reports, Health Department officials had collected 40 fish samples from Agartala, out of which formalin was found in 11.
Of these 11 samples, five were collected from two main fish markets of Agartala and six from fish imported from Bangladesh," Choudhury said. Formalin, a poisonous and anti-decomposition chemical agent, is used as an antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative in various items.
The minister said food safety officers are collecting samples randomly from markets and getting them tested at laboratories. Under the Food Safety Security Act and Rules, 2011, anyone found guilty faces a penalty of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, or imprisonment, or both.
An official of the Industries and Commerce Department said that, on average, 25,644 kg of fish are imported daily from Bangladesh and 26,180 kg bought from outside the state, including from Andhra Pradesh. "These fish imported from Bangladesh and brought from other states are being sold in Tripura markets without any lab tests," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.