VIJAYAWADA: With non-duty paid liquor being smuggled into the state, a new problem of spurious liquor is becoming a concern for authorities. Taking advantage of the demand for liquor, especially for those brands which are not available in the state, smugglers are starting to pump in spurious liquor to cater to these demands.
While only a few cases of spurious liquor have been reported in the state so far, it could turn into a widespread problem given the high demand. The special enforcement bureau (SEB) has recently busted three such cases — in Guntur, Anantapur, and Visakhapatnam. In all three cases, the liquor was smuggled in from neighbouring states. Interestingly, the smugglers themselves were not aware that they were bringing in spurious liquor.
In one of the cases, reported at Guntur’s Macherla, the smugglers had brought in a truck-load of liquor bottles from the Karnataka and Goa border area. They were under the impression that they had brought original liquor. The smugglers had buried their stash in the ground to sell them in batches. However, the SEB received a tip-off and conducted raids unearthing 16,000 bottles. After confiscating the contraband, officials started investigation to find out the supplier by tracking back the labels on the bottles.
To their surprise, they found out that the labels on the bottles are not of the original manufacturer but it was indeed the person supplying the smugglers who had printed them. Further investigation revealed that the supplier had collected empty bottles from bars, filled them with spurious liquor made of rectified spirit, and affixed labels similar to those issued by the Karnataka government.
In the Visakhapatnam case, the liquor was brought from Odisha with original labels but the bottles were refilled. Speaking to STOI, SEB director PHD Ramakrishna said that the suppliers from other states were taking advantage of the demand from smugglers who wanted to make quick money. He advised the public to buy liquor from authorised stores only.
“Besides, it is illegal to purchase liquor from other states, there is no guarantee that they (smugglers) are buying the original product,” Ramakrishna said and cautioned that consumption of spurious liquor can have life-threatening consequences.