Lizard skin, toxic chemicals ‘used’ in making illicit liquor

Deadly concoction made to add ‘more kick’ to the booze

Lizard skin, toxic chemicals ‘used’ in making illicit liquor

Recent raids reveal contaminated water was used by bootleggers. File

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10

High cost boosts illegal trade

  • It has come to light that to increase revenue, the Excise Department has raised the prices of Punjab Medium Liquor, which is mainly consumed by the labour class. “Daily wagers can’t afford a drink priced at Rs 150 per quarter. Therefore, they buy their daily quota from illegal suppliers, who charge them less than Rs 40 for a quarter,” an official said.

Sewage, industrial waste, water from stagnant ponds and canals carrying heavy pollutants or chemicals are some of the adulterants which go into the making of illicit liquor in the state.

To add more kick to the illicit booze, bootleggers have also started adding lizard skin, Alprazolam tablets and muscle relaxant balms to make it a deadly concoction.

Highlighting the unhygienic condition under which such liquor is made, officials, who have conducted raids to bust such rackets, say, “Water collected from nearby sources is laced with chemicals and then filled in tyre-tubes, which are buried under hot sand for over a week.”

A cop, who has been a part of over a dozen such raids, says, “Water used in brewing cheap liquor is compromised. During the raids, we were shocked to see dead lizards, sewage and even tyres floating in illicit liquor containers. Usually, by the time seniors reach the spot, the recovered illicit liquor is either destroyed or filled in drums as case property. In most of the cases, ASIs deals with such recoveries while the SHOs hardly visit the spots. Following the recent deaths, things have changed.”

Earlier, ingredients such as rose petals, cumin seeds and mint were used to prepare home-made liquor. Sources claim there are 20 to 30 illicit distilleries producing country-made liquor in the state. Often, country-made liquor guarantees a stronger kick than any other form of alcohol.

Chemicals pilfered from sugar mills, hardware industry and distilleries often end up in the hands of bootleggers, who add ingredients and sell it as a cheap liquor.

Methanol, along with denatured spirit that automatically emerges in the liquor distilleries, makes the bootlegging job easy and profitable.

Illicit liquor manufacturers allow it to undergo high boiling temperature and vaporisation. “Instead of discarding the initial liquid collected through condensation, it is allowed to be mixed in liquor. Further, the impurities and chemicals worsen its quality,” says Kahan Singh Pannu, Director, Mission Tandarust Punjab.

Excise and Taxation Principal Secretary A Venu Prasad said stock checking of distilleries would continue to ascertain if any chemical, including ENA, was pilfered.

“Bootleggers use many harmful chemicals and excise officials in the field have been warned against any laxity,” he stated.

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