Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding fish sold in Assam contaminated with formaldehyde, 10/04/2024

  • 10/04/2024

Order of the National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata) in the matter of Arun Das Vs Union of India & Others dated 10/04/2024.

The application filed by Arun Das, resident of village Tengabari, Dibrugarh district was that fish caught far away from Assam are sold in Assam in addition to fish procured from the fisheries in the state of Assam.  It is stated that so far as the fish procured from the fisheries in Assam are concerned, the procedure for catching and sale of such fishes is governed by the Assam Fishery Rules, 1953, and guidelines of the Assam Fishery Development Corporation.

However, the allegation of the Applicant is that fish which is brought from outside Assam through transportation, such fish are found to have traces of Cadmium, Arsenic and Formalin as per the report of a study conducted by the team of researchers from the Department of Biology, Nowgong college.

The government of Assam in its affidavit, November 20, 2023 mentioned the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for restricting import/stock/sale of fish imported from other self sufficient states by road/river route using formaldehyde keep fish in marketable condition for long duration.

A further affidavit, February 9, 2024 has been filed by Assam, stating that the draft SOP has been finally accepted and notified by the government and has come into effect from January 20, 2024 to stop the menace of use of formaldehyde including constitution of a State Level Task Force and District Level Task Force. It is also stated that pursuant to the notification of the SOP, the Commissioner and Secretary, Fishery Department, Assam, had directed all the District Fishery Development Officers throughout the state to take necessary follow up action for constitution of District Level Task force as per SOP for restricting import/stocks/sale of imported fish using formaldehyde forthwith in consultation with the respective District Commissioners.

The applicant has also filed rejoinder affidavit, April 7, 2024 wherein it has been stated that 13 districts have already constituted the District Level Task Force and have forwarded the records of formation of such Task Force in respect of Karimganj district with details towards the steps initiated for execution of the SOP.

The NGT disposed of the application with a directed to the concerned authorities to strictly conform to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in the matter of prevention of menace of use of formaldehyde for the preservation of fishes in Assam.