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Home brew: Sanitiser turns liquor for many in Karnataka amid lockdown

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are meant for hand hygiene, especially in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published: 18th April 2020 06:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2020 11:08 AM   |  A+A-

hand sanitiser

Hand sanitizer (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are meant for hand hygiene, especially in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some desperadoes are drinking the sanitiser in the absence of IML.

“In the absence of licit liquor, people have reportedly resorted to consuming alcohol-based hand sanitisers,” said a highly placed source. Some incidents are being reported in Dharwad district, where people are consuming hand sanitisers after diluting them with water, he added. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser contains 70% alcohol, glycerine and hydrogen peroxide.

“Whisky contains 40% alcohol. People are diluting hand sanitiser with water, which works out cheaper. Hydrogen peroxide is dangerous for the liver and kidney,” said the source.

Sale of hand sanitiser needs to be regulated before it becomes a health hazard, he added. Meanwhile, illegal sale of liquor, including beer, is flourishing in Karnataka, said the source.

“The state excise department, between March 24 and April 15, seized 32,508.305 litres of illegal liquor and 22,208.275 litres of beer and arrested 417 people,” said a senior excise officer. “This is the tip of the iceberg. People are selling Indian Made Liquor (IML) and beer at grossly inflated prices in the grey market.

This is not possible without a nexus between some CL2 licensees, agents and law enforcement agencies,” he added.

“It is a bootlegger’s market. A bottle of 650ml of beer, which is priced at Rs 160, is being sold for Rs 600 and branded whisky with an MRP of Rs 1,600 is being sold at Rs 4,500 in Bengaluru,” he said.

During lockdown 1.0, the department registered 923 cases out of which 717 cases are heinous, involving illegal transportation and sale of IML.

“The deputy commissioners, revenue officials of concerned districts have suspended 44 licences.

They can be cancelled even,” said the officer. The highest number of heinous cases are reported from Belagavi (204), followed by Kalaburagi (136), Hospet (131), Mysuru (95), Mangaluru (85) and Bengaluru (66).

“The department has seized 266 vehicles transporting illegal liquor. The total worth of seized materials including IML, beer and vehicles is Rs 39,732.556,” said the officer.

“On a daily average, the department is losing around Rs 60 crore revenue due to the lockdown,” he added. Besides illegal liquor, the bigger danger is from illicit distillation (ID) of liquor. Sources said people in the Malnad region are fermenting ID in iron barrels and selling at a premium price.



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