Lack of vigilance scotched liquor tragedy
By Soumyajit Pattnaik
The liquor death toll has already climbed to 27 and may increase further. Poor families have again borne the brunt of the liquor tragedy and the sudden loss of sole earning members is likely to increase the economic hardships for the bereaved families. The administration has finally woken up to nail the guilty but the damage has already been done. Few arrests have been made, police have conducted raids and even top officials of some pharmaceutical companies have been put behind bars. The administration is pulling out all the stops to contain the damage, but it utterly failed to take prophylactic measures to avert the tragedy.
In April 2006, the then Excise minister Kalindi Behera resigned owning moral responsibility for the Ganjam liquor tragedy which claimed nearly 40 lives.
Last month, the Opposition succeeded in its campaign to seek the removal of agriculture minister Pradip Maharathy over the alleged Pipli gangrape case. It remains to be seen whether the Opposition can do an encore by claiming the excise minister’s scalp!
In many parts of the state, women have taken to the streets to ventilate their ire against liquor sale. Armed with lathis and brooms, many intrepid women have attacked liquor shops, destroyed bottles in full media glare without bothering too much about the legal consequences. The new activism by women groups in many parts of the state offers concrete proof that the law enforcement agencies have failed to curb the liquor menace. Had the enforcement agencies taken timely action to tame illegal liquor trade, we would not have witnessed such vigilante behaviour by varied women groups at regular intervals.