The list of officials who allowed the hooch and methanol mafia to flourish in order to line their pockets, thereby contributing to the deaths of 106 people in the June 18 tragedy, is assuming alarming proportions.
Eight drums of methanol had been recovered from prime accused Francis D’Mello’s (second from right) den, soon after the tragedy. File pic
While the Malwani police and the Mumbai and Gujarat excise departments are already under the scanner, investigations have now revealed that the Dahisar octroi department played a vital role in allowing the killer methanol, which was being brought from Gujarat, to enter the city.
Crime Branch sources told mid-day that the methanol was being brought to Mumbai illegally through the Dahisar toll naka, right under the noses of a few corrupt octroi officers. “During our investigations, an accused from Gujarat revealed that they were paying money to Dahisar octroi officials to allow their consignment to enter Mumbai.
Octroi officials are well aware that methanol is dangerous and it should not be allowed to pass. They should have informed their superiors and the local police,” said the Crime Branch officer added.
Gyanmurti Sharma, a BJP corporator and law committee member of the Dahisar octroi department, said, “We have raised our voices several times against the illegal activities done by octroi officials at the Dahisar entry point, but no one has taken our complaints seriously.
Had octroi officials done their job and acted against the methanol smugglers, the tragedy would not have happened. These octroi officials are also responsible for the deaths.” “Illegal suppliers manage to enter the city after paying bribes to octroi officials.
As per my knowledge, suppliers have been conducting their illegal business without any fear for the last three years,” Sharma added. “There are definitely loopholes in the octroi department. They are supposed to search each and every vehicle coming into Mumbai from outside.
We are trying to ascertain how such ignorance was happening on their part. It is a matter of concern,” said DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni from the Crime Branch.
Crime Branch officials said an inquiry will be conducted to find out how many times the octroi officials took action against methanol suppliers and how much of the chemical they had seized during raids, if any.
“Investigations revealed that officials from the Gujarat excise department took a bribe of Rs 10 per litre of illegal methanol to allow it to pass. We are checking how much was paid to Dahisar octroi officials,” said a Crime Branch officer.
When this reporter contacted Aadesh Bhangale, acting chief of the BMC octroi department, he said, “I don’t know you so I can’t talk to you on this matter.”