Illegal liquor hub is Rajpura’s new tag - ECAS Punjab

Illegal liquor hub is Rajpura’s new tag

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Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 19

After gaining notoriety for illegal mining and gambling, Rajpura has now emerged as a hub of illegal liquor production and smuggling, with regular supplies to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

After the shocking discovery of adulteration of major liquor brands in a Ludhiana village, a similar illegal manufacture and smuggling operation has come to light in this small town in Patiala district, but on a much larger and organised scale.

Dozens of such illegal units are believed to have mushroomed in Rajpura and in Ghanaur.

Most of the liquor produced here is sold in other states for hefty profits, while some authorised vends also sell adulterated branded liquor within the state to pocket huge margins. A common refrain is that political patronage ensures that the operation runs smoothly.

Over 50 road and village exits allow easy supply and smuggling of liquor from Punjab into Haryana and from there to various other states in the country. "Once you enter any village towards the border, there are many roads leading to Haryana," says a liquor contractor.

"The brand that we will sell for Rs 6,000 per case is procured by the mafia for a paltry amount from any illegal unit and supplied for less than Rs 5,000. From labels to the liquid in the bottle, everything is illegal," claims a contractor.

"After paying bribes for every vehicle, the cost of liquor jumps to somewhere around Rs 1,500 per carton. But still the risk is worth taking and the profits are huge," says an insider.

"It is surprising that no action has been taken against any excise officer for losses worth crores to the state exchequer," says Ghanaur MLA Madan Lal Jalalpur, putting the onus on the excise officials and the police personnel attached with the department. Inquiries reveal that some police personnel continue to be deputed with the excise wing for years on end.

To allegations of political backing, Jalalpura claims that he has never patronised illegal liquor trade. ETO Upkar Singh, when contacted, said regular checks were conducted and nakas laid to ensure that the illegal supply was foiled. "We have limited resources and take the help of local police."

from The Tribune

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