State to regulate use, sale and transport of methanol

State to regulate use, sale and transport of methanol

Every drop of the chemical produced will be made accountable

In this direction, the State government is planning to make it mandatory for adding a unique colour to methanol to distinguish it from other chemicals. Moreover, every drop of methanol produced will have to be made accountable and the end user will have to seek permission from the Excise commissioner for removing the colouring material, to use the chemical as an industrial input.

Methanol is used for the manufacture of pesticides, plywood, semiconductor and textile industry, among others. The largest use of methanol by far, is in making other chemicals. About 40 per cent of methanol is converted to formaldehyde and from there, into products as diverse as plastics, paints and textiles.

However, there have been several instances when methanol would be illegally procured by bootleggers to produce illicit hooch. While methanol smells like ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol or drinking alcohol), it can kill on consumption by directly damaging the central nervous system.

In high degree

It is now officially confirmed by Police and Forensic departments that the hooch tragedy, which killed more than 100 people in Bangalore and Tamil Nadu in May last year, contained methanol in high degree. The Government had constituted a high-level committee headed by ADGP Shankar Bidari (now Bangalore Police Commissioner) to give suggestions to prevent the misuse of methanol.

The Finance department has now prepared draft rules called the Karnataka Poisons (Prevention of misuse of Methanol) Rules 2009 that specifies the regulation for sale, use and transport of methanol.

The rules have been framed under the provision of the Poisons Act - 1919. The rules prohibit the import, transport, possession, sale or use of methanol without a valid license and without addition of sunset yellow colour as specified by the Excise commissioner in consultation with the drug controller.

The new rules also provide powers for executive magistrate, drug inspector, excise officer of the rank sub-inspector and above, police officer of the rank sub-inspector the power to inspect stock of methanol and related registers.

The rules mandate that dealers of methanol will have to ensure that storage facility at industry, ports and railway station are properly constructed and maintained, as per the approved plan along with the contingency plan for safety. Also, no person can transport methanol without adding the colour, as prescribed under the rules and without proper permit issued.

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