With 127 cases of illegal and spurious liquor registered last month, State excise department beefs up vigilance department, plans to deploy officials at every checkpost

Spiralling prices of alcohol in the city have given rise to an increase in the availability and sales of illicit liquor across the state. Following the rise in the number of cases registered against bootleggers, the Maharashtra State Excise Department has instructed their vigilance officers to keep an eye on illegal activities.

Not for drinking purposes: The staff of state excise department, led by
inspector Sudhir Pokde, raided Yashwant Nagar, Santacruz (East)
yesterday and recovered illicit alcohol worth Rs 68,893 yesterday.

pic/sayed sameer Abedi

If the records of the state excise department are to be believed, then around 127 cases of illegal and spurious liquor have been registered in August in suburban Mumbai. Officials claim that after Daman and Diu, now illicit liquor is fast penetrating the Mumbai markets through Goa and Karnataka.

Threefold increase
A senior excise official on condition of anonymity, said, "There is a threefold increase in price of liquor in the city as compared to Goa. Therefore, Goa is now the easiest route from where cheap liquor is brought into the state. We have also registered a few cases where the liquor was brought in from Karnataka. Following a steep rise in the number of cases, we have strengthened our vigilance team and have planned to deploy officers at every check-post and entry points across the city," the official added.

Acting on a tip-off, the Powai flying squad, on Wednesday, busted a racket at Milind Nagar, where a middle-aged woman, Pushpalata Mane, was caught red-handed, mixing cheap liquor from Goa into a Bagpiper and Royal Stag bottle.

Both are reportedly considered to be the fastest moving brands. "We have seized five boxes worth Rs 33,000," said K M Kamble, an excise official from Powai.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Narsingh N Mudiraj, suburban district in-charge, said, "As of now three cases have been registered this month. The bootleggers deliberately transport liquor in pouches and then transfer them into empty bottles. To curtail this we have beefed up our vigilance department."

Mudiraj confirmed that their division officers have registered 73 cases while the flying squad registered 54 cases.

A senior Mantralaya official from the state excise ministry revealed that the sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor has gone down by 15 per cent in the city and 25 per cent in the state.

He said that the sale of beer bottles also witnessed a drop of 10 per cent across the state, contrary to the two per cent increase in the sale of country liquor, indicating that people are forced to shift to country liquor to battle the price rise.