Excise officials following the MCD’s sealing squads have stumbled upon some unpalatable truths about illicit liquor manufacturing: it is being made using the polluted water of the Yamuna river.
Why dirty water? According to an arrested liquor peddler, this is because the polluted water is suitable for fermentation.
Following the MCD teams to shops in non-conforming areas, the Excise officials also discovered that the dealers and manufacturers of illicit liquor have spread their operation in several parts of the city.
When a person running an illegal liquor-manufacturing unit was caught in east Delhi, Excise officials were surprised to learn that he was using the waters drawn from the Yamuna in the manufacturing process. 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.
"Cases of liquor smuggling and hooch peddling have increased recently," admitted AK Walia, Delhi Excise Minister. He however, hastened to add that vigilance too has been increased and the Excise Intelligence Unit booked 326 cases in the last month. "The figure is more than double from the corresponding period last year," the minister added.
The increased activity of liquor smugglers and arrests follow the closure of around 30 of the 505 liquor shops in the city. By January 31, almost 40 per cent of the government liquor shops will have to relocate to commercial areas.
The minister admitted that it was a tough call opening new shops. "There is 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 the government duty.
"We cannot open liquor shops in slum clusters, unauthorised colonies and the rural villages, but these comprise more than half of Delhi population," he said. Asked about the action plan in view of the closure of shops and increased smuggling and manufacturing of illicit liquor, Walia said increased vigilance and relocation were the priority for the government at present.