A team from the excise department of Thane district led Superintendent Nilesh Sangade and Deputy SP Charudutt Hande launched a search operation to weed out illicit liquor brewers (haath-bhatti’s) in isolated zones running deep into the swamps and creek tracts located in their jurisdiction.
However, the operation was a little different from the usual as this time the team had a drone in the air which was aiding their hunt.
Armed with the drone camera and other supporting equipment, the excise teams from the local divisions along with vigilance officials and drone experts captured live images of suspected spots and carried out raids at seven hooch brewing units in their jurisdiction.
A team member operation the drone | FPJ Photo
Apart from manufacturing equipment, the team seized and destroyed multiple barrels of hooch along with ingredients including 30,200 litres of chemicals like fermented jaggery wash and 2,165 litres of illicit liquor, all worth more than Rs. 8.62 lakh. “The drone is proving extremely beneficial in scanning through a vast stretch that would have otherwise called for a huge exercise in manpower," said Sangadae.
"Other than locating the dens, the high definition cameras mounted on the drones take photographs that can later be used to identify the culprits and as strong evidence to nab them. We have also trained some of our tech-savvy personnel to operate the drone mechanism,” he said.
Realizing the difficulties faced by the excise personnel in locating and accessing such illicit brewing units thriving deep inside thick mangroves along the creek tracts, District Collector Rajesh Narvekar had provided a drone camera and four fibre boats to flush out the notorious hooch mafia.
However, no one was arrested in the operation as the miscreants operating the den had escaped even before the excise personnel could reach the spot. Meanwhile, a case under section 65-c (constructs or works of any distillery or brewery) of the Bombay Prohibition Act has been registered against the yet-to-be-identified accused.
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