TN hooch toll touches 54; blame-game refuses to die

As soon as the House convened, AIADMK legislators were on their feet seeking the chair’s nod to raise the Kallakurichi issue.
Family members stand next to patients admitted to Kallakurichi GH on Friday
Family members stand next to patients admitted to Kallakurichi GH on Friday(Photo | PTI)

KALLAKURICHI/CHENNAI: As the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy toll continues to rise with over 50 deaths reported till Friday evening, there was full-blown war of words between the AIADMK and DMK. While all AIADMK members, including Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami, were evicted from the Assembly for staging a protest, Chief Minister M K Stalin dismissed it as ‘drama’ and appealed to the opposition parties not to seek political mileage from the tragedy.

Earlier in the day, replying to call attention motion, the CM told the Assembly on Friday that of the 164 people affected, 117 are receiving treatment as in-patients in various hospitals. “I have the list of deaths that occurred due to illicit liquor under AIADMK regime. But I don’t want to do politics,” Stalin said.

As soon as the House convened, AIADMK legislators were on their feet seeking the chair’s nod to raise the Kallakurichi issue. Palaniswami and other MLAs sat on the floor in front of the Speaker. Eventually, following Speaker Appavu’s direction, marshals evicted them.

Some MLAs, including deputy leader of the opposition, RB Udhayakumar, were carried outside by them. Meanwhile, hearing a PIL petition filed by AIADMK seeking a CBI probe, the Madras HC questioned the state government on the action taken to prevent such tragedies after the last such incident in 2023.

A bench of Justices D Krishnakumar and K Kumaresh Babu also sought details about government officials who were responsible for the Kallakurichi incident, action taken in last one year, and the number of cases registered across the state.

Family members stand next to patients admitted to Kallakurichi GH on Friday
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Family members stand next to patients admitted to Kallakurichi GH on Friday
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135 victims still hospitalised

The death toll in the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy touched 50 on Friday. The victims include five women and one transperson. Sixteen patients in Salem died failing treatment, four died in Villupuram and three died in JIPMER.

Besides, 27 people who received treatment at Kallakurichi GMCH died, while 135 still hospitalised. At least 15 people from areas like Madhavacheri, Ammapettai and Kacharapalayam have been admitted to hospitals and two had died.

“More people are affected there but they are trying to escape medical teams to avoid being hospitalised,” said K Kaveri (35), a school teacher. Some locals said that there could have been few cases in nearby villages where people died without coming to hospitals.

At least 25 people from Seshasamudram and Sankarapuram areas located near Kalvarayan hills were hospitalised, and three of the victims are dead.

Aid for children who lost parents

The government will bear the educational expenses, including hostel fees, of children who had lost both or one of their parents, till graduation. The government will pay Rs 5,000 per month as maintenance allowance till the age of 18 to those children who had lost both their parents.

A fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh will also be done for such children and the amount will be given to them with interest when they turn 18, the CM said

3 patients reached hospital on Tuesday

In a startling revealation, health officials told TNIE that three very ill patients from Karunapuram were admitted to Kallakurichi GH by as early as 9am on Tuesday though the then Kallakurichi collector and SP were stoutly denying the unfolding hooch tragedy till Wednesday afternoon. A member of the medical team that set up a health camp in Karunapuram by Tuesday afternoon told TNIE that the team went to the households and alerted the villagers that the hooch they might have consumed was toxic

(With inputs from Krithika Srinivasan)

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