Diamond Harbour (WB): It took nearly 143 lives to make the administration wake up to the fact that an illegal liquor trade was flourishing under the patronage of police and local political bosses in different areas of South 24 Parganas district.
The illegal liquor, known in local parlance as `chullu`, is manufactured mainly at Gocharan, about 40 km from Kolkata, and distributed through an efficient supply chain in different parts of South 24 Parganas district.
"The liquor is manufactured at distilleries located in different areas of Gocharan and then goes to different parts of the area," Bablu Naskar, whose brother Sanyasi is undergoing treatment at M R Bangur government hospital said.
It is one of these supplies that go to selling spots in village markets that went horribly wrong due to mixing of some chemical and claimed so many lives in different villages in Mograhat area.
It is a common practice that chemicals like methyl alcohol are mixed with the distilled liquor that is obtained by fermenting molasses to give an instant high to poor villagers who cannot afford good alcohol.
A plastic pouch pack of about 500 ml costs Rs 20 and the villagers who come from different vocations range from landless labourers to workers in sundry factories to vegetable sellers.
Most of these people live in huts or tenements in villages surrounded by vegetable farms. They can barely make ends meet with what they earn and with not many avenues for entertainment, they easily fall prey to the lure of cheap liquor, little knowing that this could be deadly.