KOCHI: The toddy shops in the state which have been remaining closed for the past 49 days due to the lockdown are set to open on Wednesday, providing takeaway services. However, there is a high possibility of adulterated toddy making it to the market in large scale as Chittur in Palakkad—the main source of toddy in the state— is currently producing only 10,000 litres a day as against the required three lakh litres per day.
In view of the possible flow of adulterated toddy due to high demand fuelled by non-availability of beer and hard liquor, the state excise department is on high alert. K Sivan, general secretary of Swathanthra Kallu Chethu Thozhilali Union in Chittur, said tapping is not being done in more than two lakh coconut trees in Chittur, from where 80 per cent of toddy is supplied to the shops in the state. “Only a minimum number of trees are being tapped, from which only 10,000 litres can be produced a day. We have not been able to tap the remaining trees due to various reasons. There is all probability of large quantity of adulterated toddy being sold in the market from Wednesday as there is a huge demand,” said Sivan.
According to excise officials, the demand for toddy is expected to increase to five lakh litres per day considering the non-availability of beer and hard liquor. “The daily production of toddy should be at least three lakh litres per day to ensure steady supply to all shops,” said an officer.
State Excise Commissioner S Aananthakrishnan told TNIE that the department will conduct massive checking of samples from all toddy shops in the state. “It’s a fact that there will be shortage of toddy and many will attempt to overcome the shortage by making adulterated toddy. All units have been directed to monitor the supply line,” he said.
Excise officials said probe into seizure of adulterated toddy on earlier occasions had found that chemicals like chloral hydrate, saccharine, lead, sulphated ash and benzoic acid were being used to make adulterated toddy. Kerala State Chethu Thozhilali Federation (AITUC) working president D P Madhu said the unions have exhorted the members to ensure that they do not allow anyone to adulterate toddy to meet the huge demand.