Mumbai: With the toll in Malad hooch tragedy here reaching 84, the opposition Congress today alleged that BJP-led Maharashtra government was protecting illicit businesses. State Congress chief and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said at a press conference here that the tragedy was sad and unfortunate. “Illicit businesses have the state government’s protection and hence such incidents take place. Police and excise department officials turn a blind eye to illicit liquor trade. Responsibility needs to be fixed and officials need to be held accountable. The tragedy has exposed the poor functioning of the home and excise departments,” Chavan said.
Merely the action against junior officials will not help but the kingpins of these trades should be ferreted out, he said, demanding a thorough probe. The government should clarify if it was serious in tackling such elements and whether it proposed to provide financial assistance to the kin of the dead, Chavan said. The hooch incident occurred at Laxmi Nagar slum near Gamdevi Jurassic park in suburban Malad on Wednesday night. Chavan also criticised the government over the reports that banks were not willing to reschedule crop loans.
“The state is receiving good rains and farmers need money. We are in sowing season. Instead of making bland statements, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should persuade the Centre to direct the banks to comply with the state government’s directive regarding rescheduling of crop loans,” he said.