At least 84 tea plantation workers in Assam succumbed to death and other 200 have been hospitalized after consuming toxic illicit liquor. The tragedy took place at Halmira Tea Estate in the Golaghat District. The incident happened about 300 kilometers from Guwahati.
According to reports, the tea estate workers consumed ‘sulai’ locally brewed liquor made of jaggery and ethyl alcohol. It has been alleged that the brewers used methyl alcohol which is hazardous to humans instead of ethyl alcohol.
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This incident comes in less than two weeks after more than a hundred people died in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand from drinking country-made alcohol.
The Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said every ten minutes they are getting reports of casualties from different places. “So far about 200 people are in hospital with many of them critical” said Sarma.
Sarma said doctors from other medical colleges and nearby districts have been rushed in to help deal with the crisis.
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Over the years, hooch has taken hundreds of lives. However, the authorities have not taken a ‘hard stand’ on it. Experts believe methyl alcohol is one of the deadly ingredients as it is only meant to be used for industrial purposes as a solvent and antifreeze.
In 2003, the workers of two tea estates had banned the sale of hooch in Golaghat district. The Telegraph had said consumption of hooch is a habit with most tea garden laborers. It has been observed that laborers and villagers consume this illicit liquor because it is cheaper and readily available in their communities. Moreover, it is very much common with a plastic pouch of the hooch being sold for Rs 10 to Rs 30.