New Delhi, Feb 25 : The latest hooch tragedy in Assam that claimed over 150 lives came barely two weeks after 99 people died in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh after consuming spurious liquor.
Experts say the tragedies point to lack of regulations and continued apathy on the part of authorities as well as a lack of awareness among people. The state excise department, they say can also use anti-counterfeiting methods to fight this menace.
"Various factors are responsible for increase in hooch tragedies. The most important is lack of adoption of technology that can help consumers, enforcement authorities and industries differentiate genuine from illegal or fake products," UK Gupta, President, Authentication Solution Providers' Association (ASPA), told IANS.
Gupta said not a single security feature is implemented on liquor bottles by the state excise departments.
"The key is awareness. The people were misled to spurious liquor assuming they were consuming genuine stuff. It's the government's responsibility to implement an effective system and ensure that liquor is available only through registered outlets and each bottle has a revenue (tax) stamp, which can be used to identify the genuineness of the product," Gupta said.
"When one consumes alcohol, it gets metabolised into a substance called aldehyde, which again gets converted into acetone. But methanol (from spurious liquor) does not get converted into acetone and it destroys the respiratory system of mitochondria, causing acute liver and kidney injuries, along with blindness," Anil Arora, Chairman, Department of Gastroenterology at Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.
Arora said alcohol-related problems are becoming more frequent. Remarking that alcohol related diseases and ailments are a global phenomenon, he said it can be prevented by banning liquor, or ensuring that the standard policies are followed in manufacturing.
According to a report, "Magnitude of Substance Use in India," by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), around 16 crore people consume alcohol in India. Of this, country liquor is consumed by about 30 per cent.