Thiruvananthapuram; With the excise department probe into the recent Malappuram hooch tragedy that claimed 26 lives finding lapses on the part of officials, the Kerala government on Friday announced strict measures to ensure quality of toddy supplied through shops.
Excise Minister P K Gurudasan told reporters here that the practice of storing toddy in godowns would be stopped and mobile inspection laboratories would be pressed into service for regular checking of toddy to avoid contamination or mixing the brew with hazardous materials.
"Only those who have at their disposal at least 50 palms and five tappers per shop will be issued licences," he said. Toddy would be allowed to be transported only through certain fixed routes to facilitate effective and regular inspection, he said.
He also indicated there would be action against erring officials on getting the report of ongoing investigations by the crime branch wing of the state police. The probe by Excise Commissioner S Subbaiah, submitted to the government yesterday, had pointed out that Excise officials in the area failed to take preventive steps despite intelligence reports that contamination of toddy had been taking place in some parts of the state.
The report found that excise officials did not regularly collect samples from shops and send them for quality tests to authorised laboratories. It also indicated that the toddy consumed by those dead was mixed with chemical material and spirit.
The inquiry also pointed out that a section of officials was receiving money on a regular basis from the `liquor mafia`. The Kerala government had ordered a judicial inquiry
into the tragedy and a crime branch investigation is also on. Twenty-six people died after consuming illicit liquor from two toddy shops in Kuttipuram and Vandoor in Mallapuram
district on September 6.