Editorial Simplified: Deadly Brew | GS – II

Several instances of toxic alcohol poisoning in India, including the Malvani hooch tragedy in Mumbai in 2015 that killed 106 people, have been attributed to the lack of affordable liquor for the poor.

Relevance :  GS Paper  II, IV [Governance]


Theme of the article

A multi-pronged plan is needed to prevent the sale and consumption of toxic alcohol.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The death of more than 100 people to toxic alcohol in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand has exposed the thriving sale of illicit liquor in the region.


Alcoholism in India

India remains among the countries with a high number of alcohol-related deaths, with poor governance, corruption and distorted policies contributing to such periodic tragedies.


Major factors responsible for alcohol poisoning

  • Lack of affordable liquor for the poor
  • High taxes and excise raise prices
  • Cheap brews are peddled by criminal organisations, often in collusion with law enforcement personnel.
  • Sale of cheap liquor in pouches that are freely distributed during social events.
  • Severe bottlenecks in consumption of liquor are proving counterproductive.

Way forward

  • An enlightened policy is needed to strike a balance, curbing illicit flows with zero tolerance, discouraging consumption through social campaigns and reviewing levies on less harmful beverages.
  • It is essential to make an example of those who participate in the sale of the lethal brew, and investigate any nexus with the authorities.
  • It is vital that the capacities of the health system be upgraded to handle victims of toxic alcohol.
  • Toxicity often comes from drinking methanol, which results in blindness, tissue damage or death. Timely treatment through haemodialysis, infusion of sodium bicarbonate and ethyl alcohol can save lives.

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