Panaji, July 14 : Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai on Saturday accused the state's media of acting like "prophets of doom" as major local dailies ran stories and editorials criticizing the government for its alleged bid to downplay presence of formalin in fish sold here and its flip-flop on the level of chemical.
Sardesai also snubbed a Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officer, claiming the media projected her as a "heroine" and asked whether the Padma Bhushan should be bestowed upon her and the staff who conducted raid in the wee hours of Friday, exposing the use of formalin in fish.
"You are journalists, you are the fourth estate in a democracy.
You have an obligation to the people. You can't be prophets of doom," Sardesai told a press conference in Margao town in South Goa on Saturday.
"I am responding because editorials have come.
I am responding because of the sensationalism which the media is presently (indulging in) full-swing. All sections of media, not only a certain section," said the Minister, who is alleged to have backed a fish trader, whose consignments of fish tested positive during field tests conducted by the FDA.
Sardesai has denied the charge.
Results of subsequent laboratory tests by the FDA on Friday, which incidentally followed a tweet by Sardesai giving a clean chit to the fish trader, said that the levels of formalin, a powerful disinfectant used to preserve dead bodies, was "within permissible limits".
Sardesai also accused the media of sensationalizing the formalin-in-fish issue, saying that newspapers had portrayed the woman FDA Inspector who conducted the raid as a "heroine".
"You have made her a heroine by splashing her name in the newspapers.
Where is she now? Has she gone on leave?" Sardesai said, refuting allegations that he had tried to pressurize her after the raid.
Sardesai also slammed the FDA and asked the agency to be more vigilant rather than conducting raids "once in a blue moon".
"Should we give them (FDA officials) a Padma Bhushan because they carried out the raid at 4 am?" Sardesai said.