Mahidharpada tragedy: Excise dept under scanner

By Soumyajit Pattanaik 
Bhubaneswar: Deadly potion raises question mark Death merchants are on the prowl again as killer brew has snuffed out four precious lives in the populous Cuttack district on Tuesday.  Apart from the dead, eleven people are battling for survival at the S.C.B. Medical College and Hospital after allegedly consuming the deadly potion at Mahidharpada village on Monday night. It’s intriguing that the killer intoxicant also claimed the life of the liquor vendor.

The latest tragedy has again raised a slew of questions on the efficacy of the excise department. The department is entrusted with the job to keep the death merchants on a tight leash by undertaking surprise visits to the premises where the brew is manufactured. We are not rushing to conclude that the excise officials utterly failed in their supervisory functions, but they were certainly lax in discharging their official responsibilities.

It’s no secret that liquor consumption shows an upward trend during elections and this may have been another compelling factor to keep the excise officials on their toes. It’s common knowledge that candidates in some parts of the state lure voters by gifting them free liquor and the polling season always witnesses a quantum jump in hooch sale in rural areas. It’s all the more reason for the excise department to increase their vigil as the state goes to the polls on February 11.

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