Odisha hooch toll 32, excise minister resigns | india | Hindustan Times
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Odisha hooch toll 32, excise minister resigns

india Updated: Feb 09, 2012 16:25 IST
Bhubaneswar

The deaths caused by a spurious drink on Thursday climbed to 32 in Odisha, while state excise minister Ananga Udaya Singh Deo submitted his resignation to chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Singh Deo, who is also the minister of planning and coordination, said he submitted his resignation on moral grounds.

The victims, mostly poor men from Cuttack and Khordha districts, fell ill on Tuesday after they took the drink that allegedly contained drugs used to treat cough and cold and to dress wounds.

Two more people died in a private hospital at Bhubaneswar on Thursday, taking the toll in the tragedy to 32, a senior state official said.

At least 50 people, including three women, were admitted to the Sriram Chandra Bhanja Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack. All of them are stable, Cuttack district collector SN Girish said.

He said among the dead was Baidhar Bhoi, the brew seller.

Citing preliminary investigation, the state government said the consumption of two medicines, namely Epee-carm and Concentrated Cinnamon, led to the deaths.

Officials said people from several areas had gone to Tukuliapada village in Cuttack district, 25 km from Bhubaneswar, to buy the drink on Monday night.

Some people, including scores of brick kiln workers, were hospitalised after buying the same medicines from chemist shops in both the districts.

While 13 deaths were reported till Tuesday, 17 died on Wednesday. Two women also lost their lives. The toll may not rise further as people admitted to the hospitals were recovering, Girish said.

Police launched a crackdown on chemist shops in different parts of the state to find out if the medicines were still available.

They also raided the factories of two pharmaceutical companies in Bhubaneswar and sealed them for allegedly supplying the medicines to the hooch kingpin Bhoi.

Police said 10 people have been arrested. They include three relatives of the kingpin and seven officials of the pharmaceutical companies.

The state government said a judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Odisha high court will probe the deaths.

Activists of women organisations and members of opposition parties however were demanding resignation of the excise minister as well as the chief minister for the tragedy.