Guwahati, March 5: Less than two weeks after more than 150 people, mostly tea garden workers died in the worst hooch tragedy in the state, the Assam government on Monday banned the sale and stocking of molasses which is widely used in making sulai, a country liquor.
Post a high level meeting in Guwahati chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the administration also said it will extend “government help for looking after all the children who lost their parent or parents in hooch tragedy under the Juvenile Justice Act.” According to officials, there are as many as 37 children who have been orphaned in the tragedy.
In Golagahat and neighbouring Jorhat, deaths due to toxic alcohol were first reported on February 21.
“The ban (on molasses) has been necessitated as molasses are widely used to prepare sulai, an intoxicating drink. He also asked the chief secretary to direct all deputy commissioners to ensure ban on molasses in all the districts,” said a statement from the chief minister’s office adding that Sonowal has directed officials to generate awareness on the dangers of drinking sulai.
Police officials investigating the incident had said that toxic methanol mixed with water and sold as sulai could have been the cause of deaths. Sulai is made from molasses, alum, often mixed with calcium carbide, urea and even used batteries.
Officials had said that some of the samples had tested positive for the presence of methanol, although an official report is awaited.
According to one investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity, the police is also probing if the crackdown on illicit Sulai in January and February in Golaghat led some individuals to start mixing ethanol and water to cater to the demand. (Agencies)