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Alcohol, drug deaths on rise in Meghalaya

What makes people worried here is the fact that apart from liquor being freely available in restaurants, the sale of illicit liquor had also increased.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2005 23:07 IST

In a development that has set alarm bells ringing in the state, Meghalaya Health Minister Sayedullah Nongrum on Monday told the Assembly during Zero Hour that an average of six persons have died in government hospitals alone every month due to alcohol- and drug-related diseases in the past nine months in the state.

Worse still, the age of the victims was between 16 to 45 years. "Every effort," the minister however said, "was being taken by the Government to prevent the loss."

The deaths, it would seem is what Meghalaya has had to pay in exchange of revenue earned from the sale of liquor. Last year, the state earned Rs 47.73 crore as revenue by the excise department. The amount was higher from the previous year by Rs 6.21 crore, indicating a rapidly rising trend in the consumption of liquor.

What has people worried here is the fact that apart from liquor being freely available in restaurants in many parts of the city, the sale of illicit liquor had also shown a marked increase.

Strangely enough, the number of alcoholics continues to grow in this hill station despite the fact that in central areas such as Laitumukhrah, local bodies have banned the sale of liquor illegally in restaurants. In areas such as Motphran and Umsohsun, the sale of liquor has been banned by NGOs that have issued strong warnings to restaurants owners.

According to Nongrum, the Government too was carrying out awareness campaigns through public and community health centres targeting risk groups.

"Information, education and counselling are part of our campaign to sensitise people about alcohol abuse" Nongrum said. The results, of course, are yet to be felt in a society that after decades may now have to rethink its position on the sale of liquor in the state.

First Published: Oct 18, 2005 23:07 IST