Even after the death of 26 people due to consumption of spurious liquor,the police have not been able to charge the arrested with any case under the Excise Act due to non-functioning of the only state-run alcohol testing lab in the state.
At present,the Kolkata police have no mechanism to test the seized samples of spurious liquor confiscated during the raids at hooch dens. The chemical examiners office,which falls under the state excise department,is responsible for checking spurious liquor confiscated by the police and the department.
The office,located at the bio-chemistry building of the Kolkata Medical College and Hospital (KMCH),however,has been lying defunct for one year. The office occupies more than 2,000 sq feet area at the hospital and consists of a lab and nearly 20 members headed by Dr M Mondol.
The department is supposed to examine fake and spurious liquor. We have seized spurious liquor during recent raids but unless we receive an incriminating report after its chemical tests,we cannot book a person under the Excise Act, said a senior police officer.
The lab was supposed to shift to a different location at Christopher Road. A few months ago,the department had vacated three rooms and moved a few documents,samples and equipment to the new location but the relocation has been pending for one year. We have been requesting the lab authorities to vacate the place for one year but nothing has been done, said Dr Indraneel Chakraborty,head of bio-chemistry department of the KMCH.
Officials revealed that the lab could not be shifted because the department has not been able to procure the necessary fire licence to store samples of spurious liquor.
At present,the lab has empty rooms with unused equipment and furniture and its staff are seen idle or chatting with colleagues.
Department sources said no test has been conducted at the lab for over a year and its godown is filled with samples of liquor,confiscated over six years ago. Even the gas liquid chromatography instrument has been lying unused for over a decade, said an official.
He added that most of the staff were reluctant to move to the new office and there have been many differences on the issue between the staff and the authorities. Sources in the police confirmed that test reports of illegal liquor of more than three years have been pending with the department.
We will move to the new location when the excise commissioner asks us to shift, said Dr M Mondol.
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