The Indian State Governments of Assam and Tripura have warned people against eating fish brought in from the Southern state of Andhra Pradesh, saying the long time taken in transit rendered the fish stale and rotten posing serious health hazards.
The warning follows a report by the Central Health Research Institute that fish packed with rice husks gets contaminated during the eight to 10 day transit from Andhra Pradesh to various northeastern states, particularly Assam, Tripura, and Meghalaya.
"The packed fish takes a long time to reach the northeast from far away Andhra Pradesh and in the process it gets highly contaminated. Consuming such rotten fish could pose serious health risks, including cancer and other diseases," Tripura Health Minister Tapan Chakraborty said by telephone from state capital Agartala.
The local governments in the region are yet to crack the whip on fish sellers.
"We are aware of the seriousness of the problem and have instructed our health department inspectors to monitor the fish markets and destroy all rotten fish. We appeal to people to be careful while buying fish, especially the fish brought from outside," a senior Assam health official said.
A vast majority of people in Assam and Tripura are fish lovers and Andhra Pradesh meets 60% to 70% of the demand.
"By the time the fish reaches markets in the northeast, it gets totally stale and rotten," said Mayuram Das, a fish wholesaler in Assam's main city of Guwahati.
Both the Assam and Tripura governments are encouraging fish farmers to set up fisheries in an organized scale to meet the local demands.
"The need of the hour is to lay emphasis on fish farming locally rather than depending on others. In that way we could be eating fresh fish and at the same time our economy would also be strong," a minister said.