The Excise Department has formed a mobile striking squad in the district to deal with the sale of illicit liquor in view of Onam season.

The squad will conduct raids in sensitive areas, including estates considered to be a haven for illegal liquor trade.

The squads will conduct immediate checks based on complaints filed by the public on illicit trade of liquor. Follow up action will be taken based on reports from circle offices and control rooms that tackle adulteration and illegal retail sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

Deputy Commissioner (Excise) Mohammed Siyad told The Hindu on Saturday that sale of hooch has not been creating a major problem, but retail sale of IMFL is on the rise in interior areas.

In Munnar, frequent raids on estates that engaged in illegal sale of liquor have made the region problem-free, he said. During Onam season, routine checks will be conducted in toddy shops, bars and IMFL outlets, and samples will be collected.

Excise officials have been posted in border check posts in Kumily, Body Mettu and Cumbom Mettu. Night patrolling has been intensified in the main towns of Munnar, Kattappana, Adimaly, Thodupuzha and Kumily. The checking of vehicles has been intensified and sensitive areas are under observation. Mr. Siyad said inputs from the excise intelligence bureau have been immediately passed to the different check posts and suspicious vehicles are being intercepted.

The excise area in the district has been divided into two sectors. The mobile squad will conduct routine checks in the two sectors.

Mr. Siyad said control rooms have been opened in divisional and circle offices to ensure co-operation of the public which is vital for checking illegal liquor trade.

A public committee meeting will be held at the collectorate conference hall on August 23 with an aim to prevent abkari-related crimes. The meeting will also review the steps taken to crackdown on illicit liquor. Regular reports of officials and support of the public have helped in taking action against the illicit sale of liquor, he said.

The phone numbers of the control rooms are: Idukki - 04862 222493; Udumbanchola - 04868 233247; Peerumade - 04869 232018 and Munnar -04864 278356.