Police officials said the business of illicitly distilled arrack or ‘sara’ had gone up during the lockdown.

East Godavari police pouring sara or arrack distilled illegally from plastic containers into a pit
news Crime Sunday, October 11, 2020 - 11:22

Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district police have destroyed illicitly distilled liquor (arrack) worth Rs 59 lakh, which was seized over the past few months, on Saturday.

As many as 23,476 litres of arrack, called 'sara' in Telugu, was destroyed in the presence of the Superintendent of Police (SP) Adnan Nayeem Asmi and other police officials at Peddapuram.

The bootlegged arrack was dumped into a pit from plastic containers, pouches, drums and other storage vessels. "Illicitly distilled liquor (ID liquor or sara) is a major problem in East Godavari district as there is easy availability of water, sugar, jaggery and others," said SP Adnan, talking about the simple everyday ingredients needed to make arrack.

Fed by the Godavari river, there is plenty of water in the entire district running through the extensive canal irrigation system built many years ago to cultivate paddy. According to police, arrack fermentation, transport and sale is widely prevalent in the mandals of Peddapuram, Pithapuram and Prathipadu in East Godavari.

"During the COVID-19 lockdown, unemployed persons took to the business of illicitly distilled arrack," said a police official. "Easy availability of water from canals, substituting black jaggery with sugar and using ammonia and alum for quick fermentation, the accused produced the banned product," he said.

According to officials, the illegal liquor prices touched a high of Rs 800 per litre during the lockdown, and currently stand at Rs 250 per litre.

In the process of busting the bootleggers, police registered 810 cases in civil police stations and 877 cases in special enforcement bureau (SEB) stations, along with the seizure of 434 vehicles and the arrest of many bootleggers.

Civil police station cases resulted in the seizure of 10,822 litres of illegal liquor and SEB cases 12,654 litres, totalling 23,476 litres. Police have also destroyed several fermented jaggery washes (‘bellam uutalu’) used to bootleg arrack.

SP Adnan highlighted that the state government has prioritised discouraging liquor consumption in Andhra Pradesh. 

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