Is inflation affecting our lifestyle or is it the greed of the mechanized fishing sector adversely affecting our fish-curry-rice culture? This is the question uppermost on the minds of thousands of housewives who complain daily about the galloping fish price, despite the fact that a few isolated restaurants can afford to offer a fish platter ready with all the assorted condiments for less than the price of raw fish sold in the market. How is this possible? Commonsense tells us that the prices are artificially hiked, and there’s no government official to control the fish mafia from exploiting the common consumers. Even standard weighing scales are done away with, and there’s no control on the quality of fish sold, leaving Goans with rotten fish for consumption.
What is going on today in the fish market is serious chicanery and extortion. Fish which is available at the wholesale market at less than half the price in the wee hours in Margao is overpriced manifold and sold to the targeted victims comprising mainly locals. The average price of fish is Rs 120 per vantto, which certainly will not last a single meal for a family of five. This means that in a day a house earner will spend Rs 240 only on fish for two major meals of the day. At the end of the month, he will end up spending Rs 7,200. Do most house holders in Goa earn that much?
This is nothing short of robbery abetted by the government’s callousness. Why should fish, which is freely available in the sea, be exhorbitantly priced? Even fish artificially spawned and cultured is cheaper. This is a question that needs to be answered by government. There are daily wage earners who do not earn that much in a month, and yet the government has the audacity of permitting the daylight exploitation to go with impunity, with the professed claim that this BJP government is a government with a difference! What a parody, which would even put a Shakuni Mama to shame!
Is fish production so expensive that it has become prohibitive for the fishing industry to sustain themselves? If this is the case, they ought to stop fishing. Let the fish revitalize itself in its habitat away from the severe human exploitation going on in Goa for decades. People must be prepared for it. The hotel industry must be directed to import fish exclusively for their needs from outside the State. Tourism was promoted with the objective of financially empowering locals, but if the beneficiaries of the industry are only a handful in the trade, what is the logic in locals paying through their nose for their traditional diet at the cost of the over rich hoteliers?
Is this government catering to the business community and the Gulf and NRIs returnees on a holiday who can squander a 1000 rupees on fish at one go and yet do not feel the pinch? Unfortunately, most Goans are not flushed with funds. It is ironic that even during the fishing ban, markets were loaded with fish, as if there was no ban at all. If bans are selective, then consumption too ought to be selective. Else, the entire exercise smacks of foolishness. With the ban on fishing ending yesterday, we expect that the government intervenes to arrest this exploitation. The Food and Drug Administration has to take series of measures to break the back of the fish mafia operating in the State. It has to ensure that this mafia does not sell rotten and inedible fish to naive buyers, by putting sand or even red colour into the gills to fool the people to show that the fish is fresh. They have to see that fish is not bloated to increase its weight by soaking it in water. Fish has to be checked at source, such as fishing jetties or deep freezing facilities, before it comes to the market. The Weights ane Measures Department too has to immediately stop the practices of fradulent weights and and regularise the sale of fish. Strict hygiene has to be maintained in all fish markets in Goa, since they are filthiest places only next to public toilets. The mafia from across the borders in the North and the South has to be monitored and price of fish has to be regularised. The business has become so lucrative that persons have shut down other businesses and have solely taken to fish vending, even ended in building plush bungalow/s in Porvorim. The government has a big responsibility to ensure strict monitoring by punishing the vendors and interstate mafia involved in exploitation. Has the government the guts to do so?