Increase in the case of liquor tragedies
Srishti Shankar, INN/Delhi
“People desperate for alcohol consumed hand sanitiser as a substitute, in Andhra Pradesh”.
As shocking it may sound, there have been a lot of incidents lately which has led out a boiling concern, speaking of which the very incident which broke out in Punjab has raised a lot of questions amongst people, liquor shops and the police authorities.
A wide range of concern has been cradled by the state government in order to take strict measures against all the illicit liquor vendors, who almost invariably use toxic methanol instead of ethanol.
The toxic amount of methanol found in the liquor can give rise to a lot of problems such as- causing damage to the liver cells. Methanol when ingested, gets broken down into- ‘formic acid’, which can cause permanent damage to the optical nerves or can even result in ‘permanent blindness’.Consuming as much as 30 ml of methanol is potentially fatal.
In Punjab, more than 100 people were killed. The incident broke out in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts. The state government, which is responsible for both excise and law and order, has sanctioned financial relief for the affected families. Policies that fail to contain illicit alcohol produce curtail long-term health impacts, as people tend to consume liquor that has higher concentrations of toxic substances such as methanol.
This should be particularly alarming for Punjab, which continues to simultaneously fight the battle against significant levels of narcotic drug use. There has been a spike in the number of documentaries surfacing online, where we can clearly observe how the state has been greatly impacted as its gen-z generation has been continually kept themselves closely adhered to all forms of drug abuse.
There are echoes in the tragedy of last year’s two major incidents involving Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and Assam, both witnessing the large-scale loss of life.
Moreover, there have been fatal outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein people can be seen adopting various illicit measures in order fulfill their need to get alcohol in one form or the other including nefarious means, which can be clearly observed when this horrendous incident broke-out. People are voicing their concerns about safety, and have been asking the government to come up with better measures and incentives.
In general, the use of denatured alcohol or liquor mixed with licit spirits that contain a low level of alcohol (ethanol), has been crafted in order to take essential measures which can keep people away from the drinking habit and to warn them about the effects of contaminants are key interventions. However, the main motive behind inculcating the same measure has been driven apart by the masses, especially the illicit liquor vendors, who continue to sell denatured alcohol just for the sake of money.
As clearly stated by the World Health Organization, governments should regulate the quality of legal alcoholic drinks, while actively tracing and tracking illicit alcohol. The several States give low priority to revamping the excise administration and policing, paving the way for episodic death and misery.
The capability of the health system in every district needs to be raised, to reduce the damage from methanol through immediate, simple detoxification therapies.