Naidu commission report within six months

Bhubaneswar: The one-man commission headed by retired High Court judge A S Naidu would probe the hooch tragedy from five different angles to ascertain the cause leading to the deaths of 34 persons. The government today issued a communique citing the terms of inquiry into the tragedy. Several others who survived the scourge of the spurious liquor have lost complete vision.

The Naidu commission would probe the tragedy from five different angles. The first condition was to enquire about the conditions leading to the tragedy. The second condition was to find out the source of the highly intoxicant brew and to find out the persons or the establishments involved in the supply of the killer liquid. The third term was to find out if the tragedy struck due to the negligence of any field staff of the government agencies in charge of maintaining watch over excise and contraband items.

The commission has been empowered to inquiry into any other angle if any new fact surfaces while conducting the probe. These apart, the commission would suggest measures to stop repeatition of such tragedies in the future. The government notification said that the one-man judicial commission would submit its report within six months.

Meanwhile, the excise commissioner has asked all the district collector to maintain a strict vigil on the sale of Epicarm, concentrated Cinnamon and orange tincture. The district collectors have been ordered to take strict action against the sellers. Eleven persons so far have been arrested in connection with the hooch tragedy which struck Cuttack and Khurda districts.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem reports of two victims suggested that the deaths occured due to excessive presence of methyl alcohol in the brew. Epicarm medicines seized from the house of main accused Baidhar Bhoi of village Tukulipada also suggsted excessive presence of methyl intoxicants in the medicines. It is suspected that the deaths occured due to excessive methyl alcohol content in the brew.

The excise and drugs control departments feared that the products were still present in the market and were in circulation. For, so far only 2,000 bottles of medicines have been seized from the market while the Eastern India Pharmaceutical Laboratory, the manufacturer of the medicines had produced and distributed over 6,000 bottles.

The drugs control department had on Janaury 27 sanctioned licence to Eastern India Pharmaceutical Laboratory at Rasulgarh in Bhubaneswar to market Epicarm medicine. OTV investigations however revealed some startling facts. The company had the permission to procure only one thousand litres of rectified spirit which was sufficient for production of six thousand litres of the medicine. The company has, however, investigations revealed, produced more than 15,000 litres of the medicine. The huge gap in production raised questions about the source of procurement of rectified spirit for producing about 9,000 litres of excessive liquid. The police and the excise officials were trying to find out the sources.