Gujarat, India: Dozens die after drinking smuggled alcohol in western state

They all consumed illegal moonshine in the Botad and Ahmedabad districts of Gujarat, where the production, sale and consumption of alcohol is illegal.

“About 10 people were arrested and about 475 liters of liquid were seized,” said Ashish Bhatia, Director General of the Gujarat Police.

Bhatia said that one of those arrested stole methanol from a factory in Gujarat and sold it to a cousin who then sold it to others who diluted the chemical with water and sold it as liquor. Methanol can cause intoxication, but even very small amounts can be toxic.

Deaths from the consumption of smuggled alcohol, known colloquially as “country liquor”, are not uncommon in India.

While the sale and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Gujarat and several other Indian states, it is legal in most of the country of 1.3 billion people, 22.5% of whom live below the poverty line. according to the World Bank.

But even in states where drinking is legal, illegal alcohol remains popular, especially in poorer, rural areas.

Moonshine is usually brewed in villages and then smuggled into the cities, where it can be sold for about 10 cents a glass – about a third of the price of legally brewed liquor.
According to secure proof, Homemade alcohol can be lethal if other liquids, such as rubbing alcohol or methanol, are added to the mixture.
Methanol poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, and heart or respiratory failure. according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, and an inability to coordinate muscle movements, according to the CDC.

“The by-products of methanol metabolism cause an accumulation of acid in the blood (metabolic acidosis), blindness and death,” the CDC reports.

The deaths this week are the latest tragedy in India’s long struggle to control the illicit trade.

February 2019 at least 154 people died and more than 200 people were hospitalized after drinking tainted alcohol in the northeastern state of Assam.
Earlier in the month, 80 people died in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after drinking illegal alcohol, prompting regional police to crack down on bootleggers.

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