At least 84 dead after drinking spurious liquor in Assam

April FrancisFeb 24, 2019

Eight died in Jorhat district's Titabor and two died in Golaghat district Merapani.

The deaths occurred in the state of Assam when workers on tea plantations consumed tainted liquor sold by unlicensed vendors, officials said.

On top of the dead, dozens were being treated in two local hospitals.

Earlier this month, about 100 people died in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after drinking bootleg liquor.

"I asked some of the patients why they consume liquor nearly everyday and they said after a hard day's work in the plantations they drink to relieve stress and tiredness", health minister Sarma said.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Authorities said that two persons were detained in connection with the case while two excise department officials were suspended pending inquiry.

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"While 18 people died at the Golaghat Civil Hospital, the rest breathed their last at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital", Joint Director of Health, Golaghat district, Rathin Bordoloi, had said on Friday. "We tried our best, but it was too late".

The recent deaths in Assam have reportedly been traced to a specific batch which contained methyl alcohol, which is a fuel or industrial solvent commonly used in factories.

To reduce the cost of regulated alcohol, politicians would have to cut the taxes charged on it.

The victims were said to have consumed unregulated moonshine, known locally as "country-made liquor".

Homemade alcohol is typically brewed in villages before being smuggled into cities, where it sells for about 10 cents a glass - about a third the price of legally brewed liquor.

Meanwhile, a local resident, Prabin Das, who heads a committee that is demanding prohibition of liquor was allegedly attacked by BJP activists in Golaghat- after it surfaced that he blamed the state excise department for its failure to check manufacturing of spurious liquor. Another mass poisoning from illicit liquor took place in 2011 in the state of West Bengal, where more than 140 people were killed.

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