8-30 per cent methanol in hooch; no need for CBI probe: TN to Madras HC

“Industrial units using methanol are being checked diligently to prevent pilferage of methanol for use as arrack,” Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena said.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday told the Madras High Court that preliminary tests of samples of illicit arrack, consumed by the victims of Kallakurichi hooch tragedy, showed that they had 8.6% to 29.7% methanol composition.

A status report, filed by Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena through Additional Advocate General J Ravindran before the first bench of Acting CJ R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq, said that none of the well-settled circumstances under which the transfer of investigation to the CBI is ordered apply to the current hooch tragedy case.

The top officer said the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy is a separate incident and not a sequel to the Villupuram and Chengalpattu incidents of 2023 where the content of methanol in illicit arrack was 99.1% and the source of methanol was also different. Several measures have been taken to check illegal supply of methanol for arrack, Meena said. “Industrial units using methanol are being checked diligently to prevent pilferage of methanol for use as arrack,” he said.

Twenty-one individuals, six retail sellers, seven transporters and eight suppliers were arrested within six days of the tragedy. Three FIRs were registered and 132 witnesses were examined so far, he said.

The officer said, “I am advised to state that transfer of cases from the state investigation to a central investigation by the CBI acting under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act is not to be resorted to routinely but only to be used in rare cases where probe was found by the Constitutional courts to have failed.”

MLA’s notice rejected by Speaker, says chief secretary

In the instant case, the unfortunate incident is less than two-weeks old and sufficient progress has been shown, Meena said. On the allegation that no action was taken to prevent the tragedy even after the local AIADMK MLA had made complaints, the CS said there were no records found on the issue.

However, he said, information from the Assembly revealed that the MLA had issued notice for a calling attention motion but it was rejected by the Speaker. Such matters would come to the notice of the government only if Speaker forwards them. In this case, it was not done. He pointed out that it was the duty of the MLA to bring specific information to the district authorities, and if no action was taken, he should have taken up the matter with the higher authorities.

Meena claimed that the entire state machinery acted assiduously once it was suspected that the cause of casualties was due to methanol poisoning and health machinery brought the situation under control by mobilising medical officers and paramedics.

The court adjourned the case to July 22 after Additional Advocate General J Ravindran sought time citing Advocate General PS Raman not appearing due to his mother’s demise. The petitions were filed by IS Inbadurai (AIADMK) and K Balu (PMK) seeking a CBI probe into the tragedy.

3 hospitalised after drinking illicit liquor

Two weeks after the hooch tragedy in Kallakurichi that left 65 dead, three men from Villupuram got admitted to Mundiyambakkam Government Hospital after they allegedly consumed illicit liquor on June 29. One of them is in coma

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