MUMBAI: The police investigation into the hooch tragedy that killed 103 people in suburban Malad has opened a can of worms, revealing the contours of the illegal countrymade liquor business in the maximum city.
And the investigation into the matter showed that the illegal liquor business had spread its tentacles across at least 51 areas here with support from Gujarat-based mafias.
Several samples tested at the Mumbai Forensic Laboratory have shown that the locally made liquor contains methanol, which is poison for human beings. Methanol is mixed with the hooch to provide ‘extra kick’ to the boozers.
Police got a prize catch when they arrested Mukesh Patel, a prominent methanol supplier from Gujarat, in connection with Malad tragedy.
He spilled the beans on how the illegal methanol supply has become routine for anti-social elements.
Based on the information provided by Patel, police identified 51 spots as illegal liquor dens, mainly in slum pockets with heavily wooded tracts. Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli, Film City in Goregaon, Antop Hill, Sewree and Mahim are the largest of these dens.
A police officer admitted that their negligence was also to blame for the methanol menace. “For the last couple of years we concentrated on containing the supply of narcotic drug mephedrone, popularly known as ‘meow meow’. In the process, we ignored the supply of methanol,” he said.
Methanol is allowed to be added in very small quantities in legal alcohol.
Hooch producers consider methanol the best medium to earn more profit with less investment.
A mixture of methanol and water with some other ingredients makes the hooch deadly and cheap. The working class with a monthly income of less than Rs 10,000 are the main clientele of the cheap liquor as it is available for Rs 20 per glass and gives a strong high.
The tipplers, though, didn’t realise that the brew was a silent killer till the time Malad tragedy struck. The forensic tests had revealed that Malad hooch was nothing but methanol and the manufacturers had even forgotten to add water to the mixture.