New Delhi: Nearly 20 percent of analysed alcohol samples from across the country were found to be either adulterated or misbranded in 2014-15, with a much higher incidence in states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, as per official data.
This apart, 2,676 criminal and 7,860 civil cased were initiated and the number of convictions was of the order of 1,402. A total sum of Rs.10.94 crore was also collected in the process, according to a written reply given in the Lok Sabha by Consumer Affairs and Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
According to the information provided to parliament, 823,265 samples were taken during the year and 74,010 of them were analysed. Out of that 14,599 were found to be adulterated or misbranded.
In Himachal Pradesh, for example, out of 725 samples analysed, 461 -- or a whopping 63.5 percent -- were found adulterated or misbranded. It was 42.8 percent in Uttar Pradesh with 4,119 samples testing positive out of 9,605; and for Tamil Nadu it was 36.4 percent, with 1,047 out of 2,873.
Interestingly, in Bihar -- under prohibition now -- 1,763 samples were collected, 1,320 were analysed, but only seven (repeat seven) were found to be adulterated or misbranded. In the national capital, out of 1,480 samples analysed, 148 were under such a category.
Among the questions posed by Bhagwanth Khuba of the Bharatiya Janata Party, representing Bidar in Karnataka, was whether 93 percent of the alcohol consumed in India was hard liquor and if most of what is produced is of very low quality, in comparison to other countries.
To that the reply was that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India neither maintained such data, nor did the regulator have any separate statistics to furnish on the quality of alcohol. However, an annexure was enclosed regarding the samples.
The annexure also included data on the first six months of 2015-16.
As per that, 14.5 percent or 4,106 samples, out of the 28,259 that were analysed, were found to be adulterared or misbranded. But it did not include data from several states, notably Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Uttarakhand.
In Tamil Nadu, the incidence of adulteration or misbranding was slightly lower at 30 percent and much lower at 18 percent in Himachal Pradesh, against 36.4 percent and 63.5 percent, respectively, for the two states during the whole of the previous year.
The minister also pointed out that implementation and enforcement of food standards was with the states.