Excise wing blamed for poor follow-up

G. Anand
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Many cases undetected, says CAG

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found that the enforcement wing of the Excise Department “ineffectively followed up” on intelligence reports on the sale of artificial toddy of dubious quality in the State, thereby rendering the sizeable section of regular toddy drinkers highly vulnerable to “serious health problems” and potential “liquor tragedies.”

In its performance audit of the department for the financial year 2010-11, the CAG pointed out that the liquor tragedy that claimed 25 lives in Malappuram district in September 2010 could have been averted had Excise enforcers conducted “rigorous raids and seized spurious liquor” on the basis of the detailed information given to them by their own intelligence wing on August 20 the same year.

Similarly, Excise enforcers did not act on a detailed intelligence report filed on May 5, 2010, listing the name of the licensees who used contraband spirit of dubious quality to enhance the potency of the artificial toddy they retailed through their outlets in Palakkad district.

Excise Department registers did not accurately reflect the number of liquor and toddy samples its enforcers had collected from various outlets for chemical analysis to detect the presence of spurious or noxious substances.

For instance, in Kozhikode division, out of the 1,569 samples sent for chemical analysis, the test results of only 26 were officially entered in the register concerned.

Interestingly, the Chemical Examiner told the CAG in May, 2011, that no test results were pending for Kozhikode division.

Such methods hindered prosecution of cases in which adulterated or spurious liquor was detected.

Undue delay

The CAG noted that the chemical analysis reports of samples taken from distilleries were issued the same day while those of toddy samples were delayed for years. The undue delay in analysing toddy samples impeded enforcement against erring licensees and spurious liquor traders and might encourage the sale of illicit liquor.

The CAG also found that the department treated “4 to 30 per cent” of the cases it registered as un-detected, citing that its enforcers could not identify or apprehend the culprits.

No charge sheets were filed in 86 major cases registered in the State citing the same reasons.



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