The samples of fish collected from the local fish market were not only declared unfit for human consumption but were found laced with poisonous formalin- a toxic solution used by the doctors to conserve dead bodies for longer time at the time of anatomy.
The revealation came after the district health department received reports from government laboratory, Chandigarh, on Monday, regarding four samples of different species of fish which were collected on January 25 and sent for laboratory tests to know about its quality.
"The samples collected are found adulterated and hazardous for human consumption. Though we are yet to receive details of laboratory reports but prime facie it has come to fore that presence of formalin toxic have been detected", confirmed Dr HS Bali, chief medical officer.
"Formalin is basically a chemical used for storing human dead bodies and its human consumptions can raise serious respiratory and gastro like problems", he said.
Formalin is a product used in a lot of anti-bacterial cleaners and disinfectants. It is essentially formaldehyde mixed with methanol.
However, the district administration has no idea since when fish sellers in the only fish market of the city set up in the residential area, have been selling such fish to people.
The authorities of district health department and the Patiala municipal corporation only swung into action and collected samples after local residents complained and protested against authorities' lackadaisical approach towards foul and irritating smell emanating from the fish market.
Besides the district health department, civic body's health wing has also collected some samples, the reports of which are yet to come.
Bali said they have received reports from the area that fish sellers are selling stale and sub-standard quality. The special team under guidance of district health officer Dr Harish Malhotra has been formed to look into the matter.
"As per the Food Safety and Standards Act, we would now give one month time to erring shopkeepers to file appeal for rechecking of unhealthy sample reports. The prosecution action would be initiated only once we are done with re-appeal", Bali said.
The local fish market has been running illegally in a residential area though a place has been demarcated for it.The authorities have turned a blind eye towards this. Unable to take adequate action, even mayor Amarinder Bajaj has recently written to the Senior Superintendent of police Hardial Singh Mann to close down the market.