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Methanol Poisoning in Illicit Liquor UPSC NOTE

 Why in News

  • The Kallakurichi tragedy, with over 50 deaths, highlights a recurring issue of methanol poisoning from illicit liquor across India.

  • Postmortem reports confirm methanol consumption as the cause in most victims.

Production of Ethanol and Methanol:

  • Ethanol (used in legal liquor) is produced biologically from molasses (sugar byproduct).

  • Responsible distilleries remove methanol during the production process.

  • Methanol (poisonous) is produced from coal and used in various industrial products.

Accessibility of Methanol:

  • Both ethanol and methanol are controlled substances in Tamil Nadu, requiring licenses for manufacturing, transportation, and storage.

  • Reports suggest a black market for illegally obtained methanol, possibly sourced from Andhra Pradesh.

Causes of Methanol Poisoning in Illicit Liquor:

  • Methanol might not be properly removed during crude distillation by bootleggers, leading to accidental contamination.

  • More likely, methanol is intentionally added to the illicit liquor due to its:

    • Lower cost compared to ethanol.

    • Misguided belief that diluted methanol can provide intoxication.

Legal Precedents:

  • The 2015 Malvani hooch tragedy involved a similar debate on intentional vs. accidental methanol use.

  • The verdict highlighted the difficulty of proving intentional poisoning.


  • Stronger Legislation:

  • Central and state laws should work together to regulate the methanol supply chain.

  • Existing laws like the Poisons Act can be strengthened.

  • Strict Implementation:

  • Effective enforcement of existing laws is crucial, especially with increased production of ethanol and methanol for fuel alternatives.

  • National Focus:

  • Preventing contamination requires national priority to ensure proper separation and handling of methanol and ethanol.

  • Overall Methanol poisoning in illicit liquor is a preventable tragedy.

  • Stricter regulations, better implementation, and a national focus are needed to ensure the safety of consumers.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Methanol Poisoning in Illicit Liquor UPSC NOTE
Methanol Poisoning in Illicit Liquor UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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