Smuggling of harmful chloral hydrate goes on unabated

Celebrities like Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe are said to have overdosed on it, while criminals across the globe continue to commit rapes and robberies using this substance.

Karnataka has been desperately trying to curb its circulation for over a decade, and yet, chloral hydrate, commonly known as ‘CH powder’ continues to trickle into the State.

Use of this powder to produce artificial toddy is widespread in the arid regions of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and for over a decade, the border districts of Raichur, Yadgir, Kalaburagi and Bidar have been trying to eradicate the dangerous substance.

The circulation of the powder, despite intensified vigilance, is so rampant that on December 31, 2015, alone, a whopping 171 kg was seized from a farmland in Sedam in Kalaburagi district.

The State Excise department figures also indicate that after Raichur, Kalaburagi is the worst affected.

While 50 kg of CH powder was seized in 2014-15 (Kalaburagi - 40 kg; Raichur - 9 kg; Yadgir - 1 kg); between April and December 2015, 199 kg of the banned substance was seized from the four districts -- Bidar - 5 kg; Kalaburagi - 171 kg; Raichur - 22.5 kg; Yadgir - 0.5 kg.

Sachets
Excise Commissioner S R Umashankar said that following the seizures, the department had not only stepped up its vigilance, but had also been in constant touch with authorities in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to conduct joint raids.

“The Andhra Pradesh government has taken stringent action. But the problem persists on the Telangana border. To outsmart authorities, criminals, who used to get caught transporting artificial toddy in containers, are now transporting them into Karnataka in sachets,” he said.

Excise Joint Commissioner, Kalaburagi division, recently convened a meeting with excise officials of the four districts in Karnataka and those from Rangareddy, Mahaboobnagar and Medak districts in Telangana.

Extradition
H Thimme Gowda, Raichur Excise DC, said that extraditing habitual offenders (outside the State), who have also been booked under the Goonda Act, is inevitable. “In 2015, we seized as many as 34 vehicles. CH powder is transported by train and private vehicles using women, senior citizens and even children as carriers. Stringent action is the need of the hour.”

One kilogram of CH powder can yield 1,000 litres of fake toddy, which is sold at Rs 20 a litre. The powder is largely procured from Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Rs 750 to Rs 1,000 a kg.
DH News Service

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