Probe: Accused bought spirit on pretext of making sanitiser - ECAS Punjab

Probe: Accused bought spirit on pretext of making sanitiser

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19

The denatured spirit used to make spurious liquor that led to over 110 deaths in Majha was purchased by a Ludhiana-based paint shop owner from an industrial dealer in Delhi. The substance was bought for making paint, but it was instead sold to a Moga-based businessman.

This has been brought to light by the Punjab Excise Department in the course of its probe into the spurious liquor tragedy.

The denatured spirit was sold (three drums of 200 litres each) to a Moga-based businessman, who bought it on the pretext of using the substance for making hand sanitisers. He, however, further sold the substance to illicit liquor manufacturers in Tarn Taran. The role of a Delhi-based firm in the sale of chemical compound containing methyl alcohol is now under the scanner.

Excise officials say provisions of the Punjab Poisons Possession and Sales Rules specify that permission is required from the local authorities for the sale or manufacturing chemicals, including methanol.

However, the spirit that claimed lives in Majha does not classify as pure methanol, as only part of the spirit is methyl alcohol. "It is used for making thinners and hand sanitiser. It has a high concentration of alcohol and is unfit for human consumption. Law does not prohibit its sale," a senior official told The Tribune.

While the government has made distilleries responsible for the pilferage of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) during its transportation, which was smuggled and used by illegal distilleries unearthed in Rajpura and Khanna in June this year, restrictions on its transportation from distilleries have been issued.

"We are trying to make distilleries accountable and have made it mandatory for the transport vehicles not to stop anywhere," Rajat Aggarwal, excise commissioner, said.

'Explain steps taken'

  • The panel has sought a report from the DCs on the steps taken in their respective districts to protect life and livelihood from stray cattle
  • They have also been asked if cattle pounds have been constructed at government allocated places or not

from The Tribune

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