Mumbai: The office of the state excise department in Thane is all set to use fibre motor boats and advanced technology comprising drone cameras to search and raid illicit liquor dens operating in forest and mangrove areas of the district. A raid that earlier took seven to eight hours can now be completed much faster, leaving little time for operators to flee.
Thane Collector Rajesh Narvekar, through an innovative fund, recently gave one drone and seven fibre motor boats to the department. The fund was cleared by a district planning committee. Narvekar said, “The boats are for tracking the smuggling and trade of spurious liquor. The team will patrol the area to identify illegal liquor manufacturing and selling bases with the help of drones.” Teams that will operate the boats and drones are already being trained to use them.
In Thane, mangroves of Uttan, Bhiwandi, Diva, Dombivli, Desali and Kalyan creeks are notorious for liquor dens.
Sources from the excise department claim that looking out for illicit country-made liquor dens was always a challenging task in Thane. With the police coming down heavily on smuggling, liquor dens for the past few years have been shifting to mangroves in the district outskirts.
With hooch dens operating despite the state ban, the excise department of Thane keeps conducting raids as per information to curb the supply chain. Superintendent of the state excise department in Thane, Nitin Ghule said many a time, despite receiving accurate information, it’s not possible to reach the spot.
Ghule said, “Sometimes there’s a delay in getting a boat, and at other times the information is leaked, alerting the operator.” Before the team reaches the spot, the mafia flees, leaving behind illicit liquor. However, it’s free to set up business again. Ghule said, “If we catch them, a case can be registered and they would stop operating. Fibre boats will help all team members reach on time and take timely action.”