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Spurious toddy to cause hooch tragedy, says Kerala cop

Kochi, Aug 30 (): Toddy shops will be the route through which illicit liquor will flow after the closure of bars, says ADGP (Intelligence) in a report given to State government. It says that the amount of toddy produced and sold does not the match the number of coconut trees that are used for tapping.

A coconut tree gives 1.5 litres of toddy as per official figures and as per consumption figures, Kerala should have only around three lakh trees but it is less than two lakh. The Intelligence report says that without taking steps to bring down demand for liquor, an abrupt stopping of bars and cutting down retail outlets that sell IMFL, demand would be diverted to toddy sector and this in turn will increase the production of more illicit liquor which will contain more harmful ingredients to add punch to the tippler.

Hemachandran, ADGP (Intelligence) submitted a report which warned of a hooch tragedy, if the bars are closed and stressed on the need to wean away the people from liquor and slowly push in prohibition stage by stage.

As the demand grows, the license holder will be tempted to push in spurious staff that could put tipplers’ lives at risk. As per rule, a toddy shop to get a license should own or lease 50 coconut trees that are used for tapping and employ 5 persons who are members registered with Toddy Workers Welfare Board to do the tapping.

Though there are 35,000 odd workers on the roll, only 15,000 are employed. In districts like Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, the shops have no takers during auction and are operated by toddy tapping workers themselves. The situation will change now and bidding will increase.

Chittur, a border town in Kerala- Tamil Nadu area of Palghat is a major source of toddy as this district alone has 1 lakh trees being tapped and workers from Tamil Nadu are easily available. From here toddy is sent to other districts with permits issued by government. The rest of the State has only 25,000 trees. The tapping in other districts are affected due lack of workers and owners of coconut trees not willing to give it for tapping. After September 12 ,the cutoff date for bar closure, the demand will get bigger for toddy and in turn more spurious stuff.