Excise gets tip-offs on illicit brewers from angry customers

Recently, excise officials in Kothamangalam Range seized 30 litres of illicitly brewed country liquor from a household at Malayankeezhu along the bypass. Soon, it emerged that the informer was a disgruntled customer who had to buy a litre of the brew from the accused for a princely sum of ₹2,000.

Increasingly, clients, on turning sober, become guilt-ridden on being made to pay exorbitant price for the tipple. They blow the suppliers’ cover with a vengeance. The enforcement officials are not complaining.

Change in quantity

“Unlike in the past, illicit brewing is now largely home-centric and for personal consumption, making it harder to detect. The moment it is sold we are alerted,” said Shaibu P.E., excise inspector, Kothamangalam range, where 22 such cases were registered in May under the Abkari Act. It has also been noted that brewers never store and sell in the same excise range making the seizure of their larger stock tougher.

With liquor outlets and bars remaining closed for over a month, there has been a steady rise in illicit brewing. While the production is largely in small quantities, sporadic instances of large-scale production, especially in rural areas with facilitating factors, have also been detected. Recently, 1,200 litres of ‘wash,’ used in brewing, were seized from North Paravur.

Illicit brewing on the rise

“Illicit brewing is definitely on the rise. The isolated forest regions of Idukki and Thrissur districts abetting the eastern and northern borders of Ernakulam offer ideal conditions for clandestine brewing,” said T.A. Ashokkumar, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam.

Besides three control rooms, individual excise offices have been asked to closely monitor such places within their jurisdictions.

Excise officials in the largely tribal belt of Kuttampuzha have also noticed a rise in illicit brewing. “Earlier, there were fewer cases while the quantity involved was large whereas now the cases have risen and the quantity has dropped; mostly less than 50 litres. Since large-scale purchase of raw materials like jaggery would raise suspicions, brewers mostly rely on shops in the interiors,” said Ramesh P., excise inspector, Kuttampuzha range.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:48:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/excise-gets-tip-offs-on-illicit-brewers-from-angry-customers/article34795985.ece

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