Friday 24 May 2019

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Goa manufactures more spurious liquor

 

Goa, the tourist state where liquor flows like water, manufactures three times more of spurious and illicit liquor than what it manufactures in pure and legal form, selling it in Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, including Mumbai.

This is a rough estimate being worked out by the state excise department, while busting several rackets of spurious liquor, which is sold as branded whisky, brandy and rum as well as imported scotch whisky.

Suspecting an inter-state racket operating from the tourist state, state excise commissioner P S Reddy has already contacted his counterparts in Maharashtra and Karnataka, informing them about the spurious liquor being circulated there.

Though chief minister Manohar Parrikar has instructed the excise officials not to spare anybody, it may require strong political will since close relatives and friends of several political bigwigs learnt to have been involved in these rackets, for over two decades.

Besides continuing raids on such illegal distilleries and wine shops manufacturing and selling the spurious liquor, Reddy also plans to dig into the roots of it. While arresting four persons till date including one from Mumbai, the excise department has seized at least 30 cases of scotch whisky and 1000 cases of various IMFL brands, besides five truckloads of empty bottles of various popular liquor brands.

But the rough estimate of annual illegal 'distillation' supposedly works out to 80 lakh bottles of IMFL and scotch brands, mixing into it the poisonous industrial alcohol, which is smuggled into the tourist state through various legal and illegal means.

In addition, the excise department officials suspect that even pure IMFL is being smuggled out of the state by most of the 33 distilleries running in the state, except the large manufacturers, by waiving excise duty to the tune of Rs 40 crore to Rs 400 crore annually.

They are still not sure about the exact figure, though they suspect 10 illegal bottles being filled against every legal bottle that is shown on record. As per the latest available figures, the 33 distilleries legally manufacture 1.08 crore of bulk litres of IMFL and 15.30 lakh of beer every year.

The raids have begun with companies like the UB, Shaw Wallace and Mohan Makins making written and verbal complaints to the department once again, after Parrikar came to power and started clamping down upon the scam-masters in the state.

As 31 more distilleries in the state are lying idle without renewing its registration, the excise department has now sent them a final notice, with a warning to close it down if the licence is not renewed. The excise officials found a big haul of illegal distillation in one such closed-down unit last week.

The prime modus operandi to manufacture spurious liquor is to utilise industrial alcohol, mixed with poisonous methyl, which is being imported here in the name of French polish, thinner and chocolate rapping paper.

After inspecting 36 such units registered in the state, the excise department has found that only three among it are actually running while other units divert nine lakh bulk litres of industrial alcohol for liquor manufacturing annually. With one litre used to distil four litres of liquor, around 36 lakh litres of liquor is manufactured this way.

Besides this, disclose sources in the department, that at least 22 lakh litres of rectified spirit in pure or degraded form is being smuggled into the state annually for the purpose. But none of these illegal distilleries use blending method but it is manufactured using crude methods.

"People can even die by consuming such spurious liquor", states chief minister Parrikar. Though the death rate is not alarming, figures at the state-run Goa Medical College hospital indicate that 94 persons have died in last six months while around 15 persons get admitted every month, due to liquor-related ailments.

The excise officials state that such spurious liquor can affect the nervous system and may also lead to losing eyesight. It has to be seen whether the authorities now turn blind eye towards the ongoing illegalities or root out the deadly racket totally.






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