Various units of the excise department attached to the Konkan division have conducted raids and registered as many as 5,641 offences under the relevant sections of the Bombay Prohibition Act in seven months between April, 1 to October, 31. The cases include bootlegging, manufacturing of illicit booze (haath-bhatti) and breach cases related to the unauthorised sale of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and country liquor by licensed vending establishments in the district.
While a total of 4,840 people have been arrested and booked, the excise teams and flying squads impounded 332 vehicles worth more than ₹6.68 crore which were used by the accused to ferry or smuggle liquor. A cursory glance at the official statistics sourced out from the excise department reveals that 2.38 lakh bulk litres (BL) of booze including beer (4,900 BL), country liquor (13,635BL), illicit liquor (1,03,342 BL), IMFL (5,559 BL in state and 65,724BL out of state), scotch (621BL), toddy (24,276 BL) and wine (20,265 BL) has been seized so far. This is apart from equipment and a huge quantity of more than 4.49,1947 BL of ingredients including fermented jaggery wash and chemicals seized and destroyed by the six units including, Mumbai city, Mumbai suburban, Palghar, Raigad and Thane.
“Despite facing an acute shortage of manpower, all our units and flying squads are trying their level best to clampdown on bootlegging, illicit liquor trade and breach cases related to unauthorised vending by authorised outlets,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Prasad Surve.
While the value of the seized booze is pegged at ₹17.75 crore in the current fiscal, the figures were limited to ₹15.21 crore in the corresponding period last year. While the divisional flying squad has registered 477 cases and arrested 326 people, the Thane division which has 1375 permit rooms, 255 country liquor shops, 204 wine shops and 642 beer shops topped the list with 1817 cases and 1229 arrests. Apart from the camera-mounted drones and fiber-made boats provided by the district administration, a well-oiled informer network proved to be a valuable asset for the excise personnel in conducting successful raids.