Cracking down on bootleggers allegedly supplying illicit and spurious liquor, the Excise Department, over the last one year, has crushed more than 1.5 lakh liquor bottles, including country liquor, Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and Foreign Liquor being sold and smuggled into the city, data shows.

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According to Excise Depar-tment data, between September 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023, the enforcement team filed 520 FIRs across police stations in the capital which led to the arrest of 498 alleged bootleggers.

Data also shows that a total of 1,47,776 liquor bottles were seized, of which 3,288 were foreign liquor, 30,991 were IMFL and the highest number — 1,13,498 — was country made liquor.

“Mostly, the illegal liquor is brought to Delhi from Haryana as it is cheaper there and available at a heavily discounted rate. Illegal supply of liquor increases during festive season, especially around Diwali and New Year,” said a senior official.

Officials said most of the liquor supplied illegally in Delhi is spurious, which can affect the health of those drinking them.

“Apart from this, country made liquor is smuggled in huge numbers and sold in low-income areas such as slums and densely populated localities. It is bought largely by rickshaw pullers, auto drivers and labourers owing to their cheap prices as compared to IMFL and foreign liquor,” said the official.

The official further said, “IMFL is purchased mostly by middle- income groups. Foreign liquor is mostly supplied at a higher price illegally during festival times. But in Delhi, there is a strict bar code system and we can scan and see if it is illegal or tampered with. So, tampering or mixing cheaper liquor in costly bottles is not possible in Delhi.”

When asked what other steps the department is taking to stop the illegal liquor supply and smuggling into Delhi, officials said, “We have a strong enforcement team… the department comes up with different plans and strategies every season. For instance, the number of teams are increased during Diwali, Christmas and New Year. Similarly, we have different strategies for winters.”

Data shows that from the last week of October till November, about 10,000 illicit liquor bottles were seized. Data further shows that during the crackdown, 19 illegally run godowns and 179 vehicles were seized by the Excise Intelligence Bureau (EIB).

When asked what happens to the seized bottles, an official said they are crushed with a road roller and the process is recorded.

(the above news was originally posted on Indianexpress)