Much to its horror, the Excise Department of the Delhi government has found that illicit liquor was being produced in the city by using the polluted water of the river Yamuna.
Following the sealing drive of the liquor shops in non-conforming areas, the Excise officials have discovered that the dealers and producers of illicit liquor have started spreading out in all parts of the city.
When a person, running an illegal liquor manufacturing unit was caught in east Delhi, the Excise officials were surprised to learn that he was using the waters of the river Yamuna in the manufacturing process.
During interrogation, the peddler told the officials that the river water was highly polluted and ideal for fermentation. A case has been registered against the dealer under the Excise Act.
“The cases of liquor smuggling and hooch peddling has increased recently,” admitted Delhi Excise Minister AK Walia. He however, hastened to add that vigilance too has been increased and the Excise Intelligence Unit booked 326 cases in the last month.
330 persons involved in illicit liquor trade, were arrested and 38 vehicles seized. “The figures are more than double from the corresponding period of last year,” the minister added.
The increased activity of the liquor smugglers and arrest follows the closure of around 30 of the 505 liquor shops in the city. By January 31, almost 40 percent of the government liquor shops would have to relocate to commercial areas.
The minister admitted that it was a tough call opening new shops. “There is political opposition from the local MLA whenever we propose a new shop in an approved commercial place,” said Walia.
The minister said that providing safe liquor was also a part of the government duty to prevent any hooch tragedy.
"We cannot open liquor shops in slum clusters, unauthorised colonies and the rural villages. This comprises more than half of Delhi population," he said.
Asked what would be the action plan of the government in view of the closure of shops and increased smuggling and manufacturing of illicit liquor, Walia said increased vigilance and relocation were the priority areas for the government at present.