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32 arrested as hooch toll rises to 26 in Kolkata

With one more death reported late on Monday night,the death count by consuming spurious liquor has touched 26 in Kolkata.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: January 7, 2009 12:58:09 am

With one more death reported late on Monday night,the death count by consuming spurious liquor has touched 26 in Kolkata.

So far,the police have arrested 32 people in connection.

With the sale of illegal liquor and seized 511 litres of alcohol from illegal distilleries during various raids across the city.

The police have also destroyed more than 535 litres of spurious liquor and 16 shanties have been razed down.

Ten persons were arrested in the south division and 161 litres were seized by the police from the port division.

Besides,the excise department has also swung into action seizing 525 litres from the city.

Highly-placed sources in the police said that most illegal distilleries flourished in the port area. Most of the customers were locals and would usually buy from the same shops.

“What probably happened on Saturday was that a spurious batch from Poilan or Bishnupur made its way into the shops of the smaller vendors of the port area,” said a police officer.

The state government has also decided to set the norms for a pilfer-proof packaging to check adulteration and tampering of alcohol.

State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen added that more raids would continue in and around the city.

Why hooch is prone to adulteration?
Cholai or hooch,as it is known in English,is usually distilled from fermented molasses that are left in water for 3 to 4 days resulting in the formation of ethyl alcohol.

According to Dr I Chakraborty,head of bio-chemistry department of Kolkata Medical College,the brew is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals like methyl alcohol (methanol),battery acid and even arsenic to increase the kick. “It is a lethal cocktail that causes loss of vision and damages vital organs resulting in death,” said Dr Chakraborty.

Methanol is extremely toxic. If ingested,as little as 10 mg can cause complete loss of vision and 60 mg can result in death.

Because of its similarities to ethyl alcohol,(the alcohol in beverages),it is often difficult,if not impossible to tell the difference between the two as in the case of denatured alcohol.

According to Dr Chakraborty,the initial symptoms of methanol intoxication are those of headache,dizziness,nausea,lack of coordination,confusion,drowsiness,and with sufficiently large doses,unconsciousness and death.

“It leads to extreme dehydration and a person can also die of cardiac respiratory arrest,” he added.

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