Staff Reporter

Rise due to Assembly polls in Karnataka

KOLLAM: The price rise factor has not only gripped rice and essential commodities, but also rectified spirit. Wholesale price of spirit which remained below Rs.200 per litre in the illicit liquor markets of the State till mid- March has now soared to Rs.300 per litre.

The price rise for spirit is attributed to the tightening of laws in Karnataka in the wake of the Assembly elections there next month. Movement of spirit from primary breweries there have been restricted. Strengthening of enforcement within the Kerala is being seen as another cause for the price rise.

Sale banned

Though its sale has been banned, spirit is in high demand in the State. But like rice and other essential commodities, it has to come from outside, bootlegged. The primary distilleries of Karnakata are the main source.

Rectified spirit is the main base for the bulk of the illicit liquor and spurious toddy sold in Kerala. In Karnataka, it costs around Rs.40 a litre. To make each litre of spirit potable, three litres of water should be added to it. As per records available with the police and the Excise Departme- nt, a retailer of potable spirit earns Rs.600 on a litre.

At toddy shops, one litre of spirit is added to a mixture of 10 litres of pure toddy and 10 litres of water. The basic intention of spirit addition is to give the customer the “kick” he requires while giving him the feel of drinking toddy. The sale of such toddy, though spurious, is often connived at by the authorities. Sources said it is an “adjustment” to compensate the high bid amount.

Attractive profit

Potable spirit is available at some toddy shops too. The profit of smuggling spirit into Kerala is very attractive. I According to information available with the Excise Department, a huge quantity of spirit has been stocked near Schencotta across the Kerala border meant for being smuggled into the State.

The police sources say there are reports that a stock of spirit has reached Eranakulam district and the April 23 seizure at Kareeyilakulangara, near Kayamkulam, was part of the Eranakulam stock.

Toddy shops closed

Meanwhile, most of the toddy shops in Kollam district are lying closed even after new auctions this year. The reason is that the Excise authorities are not issuing inter-division permit to toddy shops to bring toddy from Palakkad. Excise authorities say that each toddy shop should tap 50 coconut trees and convince the authorities that the tapped toddy is sold from the respective shops. Only if the excise authorities find that this quantity is not sufficient to meet the demand, will inter-division permit be granted.