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  Opinion   Edit  24 Feb 2019  Hooch deaths reflect poverty

Hooch deaths reflect poverty

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 25, 2019, 12:01 am IST
Updated : Feb 25, 2019, 12:01 am IST

The only way to control this is to keep strict watch on methanol production for industrial and other use.

People take to illicit liquor as they cannot afford to buy licensed brands from outlets that governments control or even run in some states. (Representational image)
 People take to illicit liquor as they cannot afford to buy licensed brands from outlets that governments control or even run in some states. (Representational image)

A spate of deaths from consuming illicit liquor, deprecatingly called “hooch” or “moonshine”, points to an underlying social problem. Over 100 deaths in Assam’s tea gardens in two districts last week followed a similar set of fatalities recently in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The figures are those only of hospital deaths, not of those who may have died at home or elsewhere after consuming tainted alcohol home-brewed by workers wishing to make a few extra bucks. Methyl alcohol is perhaps the source leading to such misadventures, though such illegal distillers are known to add anything that may give “a kick” to the consumer, the descriptions of much of which could be stomach-churning to those who come to hear about it. The only way to control this is to keep strict watch on methanol production for industrial and other use.

People take to illicit liquor as they cannot afford to buy licensed brands from outlets that governments control or even run in some states. These deaths occur in states with or without prohibition, which underlines the point that bootleggers will operate anywhere as they fulfil a demand while making huge profits. The problem is a reflection of India’s poverty rather than any idealistic, Gandhian imposition of prohibition, which too hasn’t been known to work because any absolute ban is unworkable. Bans are invariably beaten by elements that make huge profits from selling moonshine, recreational drugs or tobacco-laced chewing products. The answer is not a ban but tighter regulation and plenty of awareness programmes on the evils of drinking spurious liquor.

Tags: illicit liquor, methyl alcohol