The Assam government on Monday banned molasses across the state, in a move to tackle the menace of illicit liquor days after it claimed more than 150 lives. The government also said that all help would be extended to children orphaned in the incident. A government press statement said that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday chaired a high-level meeting and asked Chief Secretary Alok Kumar to ban molasses in the state.
“The ban has been necessitated as molasses are widely used to prepare sulai, an intoxicating drink. He also asked Chief Secretary to direct all Deputy Commissioners to ensure ban on molasses in all the districts,” the statement said.
Sonowal has also asked the chief secretary to direct the deputy commissioners to “generate awareness in all tea gardens and their periphery areas by conducting awareness meetings so that people can be made aware of the evils of consuming sulai”.
The press statement also said, “The meeting also decided to extend government help for looking, after all, children who lost their parent or parents in hooch tragedy under Juvenile Justice Act.” The Indian Express had earlier reported that at least 37 children were orphaned in the tragedy. Police sources, however, indicated that forensic scientists have verbally communicated that the contaminant could be methanol. The contaminant being methanol raises the possibility that the liquor consumed was not the traditionally prepared molasses-based “sulai” but, as police say, “a mixture of spirit and water”. Methanol is used for industrial purposes.
A drink prepared by mixing spirit and water has a larger profit rate than ‘sulai’ – prepared
Last week police arrested one Abdul Kasim, who allegedly sold 70 litres of methanol – whose toxicity is extremely high in human body – at around Rs 105/litre.