Mumbai: Alarmed at the use of pharmaceutical drugs like Chloral Hydrate and Alprazolam in toddy sold across 250-odd shops in the city, the Maharashtra Excise department has decided to shut them down permanently.
Excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has decided to allow sale of toddy only where it is produced in view of the health hazards.
Chloral Hydrate is used as sedative and hypnotic drug to treat sleep disorders. Its side effects include severe liver or kidney disorders, heart problems, stomach inflammation. While Alprazolam is used in treating panic and anxiety disorders. Its side effects include dryness of mouth, slurred speech, urinary retention, drowsiness and aggressive behavior.
“Henceforth, permission for toddy shops will be given at places where there are toddy producing trees,” a department official said.
He said that after sunrise, the toddy brought down from trees slowly begins to ferment. “As per a survey by the state Excise department, toddy sold in Mumbai was found to be mixed with Chloral Hydrate and Alprazolam. What alarmed us is that these drugs can cause side effects, if consumed when not needed,” the official said.
During the raids conducted by the department at toddy stalls in Mumbai, Pune, Solapur and Nanded cities, it was found that the beverage being sold was mixed with these drugs. “These two drugs are known to cause continuous state of inebriation. Besides this, another study has revealed widespread addiction among casual labourers who consume it for relaxation,” he said.
The official revealed that despite there being no tree in Mumbai that produces toddy, there are around 250 toddy stalls in the metropolis. Also, there have been reports in Telangana of people succumbing after consuming adulterated toddy, he said. The state Excise department, meanwhile, has begun conducting a census of toddy trees in the Maharashtra.
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A maximum of toddy producing trees are found in districts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Sangli, Solapur, Pune and Nanded in the state.
At present, the Excise department has been allowing sale of toddy, imported from other regions of the state, in Mumbai. The official said the department was contemplating making it mandatory for plantation of 1,000 toddy producing trees before applying for toddy sale license.
He said that the government earns about Rs 45 crore revenue out of the sale of toddy in the state. Toddy or palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as palmyra, date palms and coconut palms.
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