Staff Reporter

Excise Minister orders officials to tighten enforcement of laws

Two strike forces formed to check flow of illicit liquor in Ernakulam distrcit during election

KOCHI: The recent seizure of spirit and spirit-laced toddy from a godown near Aluva by the police has jolted the Excise officials.

Officials in the district were asked to buckle up and tighten the enforcement by Minister for Excise P.K. Gurudasan on Saturday. “The meeting was convened to ensure that similar incidents were not repeated. The tendency of illicit liquor and spirit vendors surfacing is more during election time. The officials were asked to take stringent action against this,” Mr. Gurudasan told The Hindu.

The meeting held at Government Guest house here on Saturday evaluated the present machinery. C.K. Viswanathan, Excise Commissioner; and P. Marapandiyan, Principal Secretary, Taxes, were also present for the meeting.

In one of the major catches reported in recent times, 4,000 litres of spirit and more than 6,000 litres of spirit-laced toddy were seized from a godown near Aluva earlier this week. The seizure was made in a combined operation by the police in both the city and rural districts.

The police tracked down the spirit following the detection of the material being transported in vehicles at Aluva and Thrikkakara and the Excise Department was mostly in the dark about the development.

“Disciplinary actions have been initiated against two officials in Aluva in this connection. Higher authorities in police and revenue department have been requested to lend all support to the excise drive against illicit liquor and the spirit mafia,” Mr. Gurudasan said.

In an apparent move to make up for the slip, the special drive, which was scheduled from March 19 to 23, has been extended till April 20. Two strike forces have been formed in the district and 24-hour control rooms have been started at the taluk level.

Steps will be taken to put habitual offenders under preventive detention. “As many as 146 persons were arrested in 178 cases registered during last three months. All the 17 accused in five cases registered recently for storing more than 1,000 litres of spirit were arrested,” said Thomas K. Abraham, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam.