Illegal use of rectified spirit on rise

Despite health hazard and occasional reports of death, the illegal use of rectified spirit as substitute for liquour has been increasing alarmingly in eight northern districts, including Panchagarh, due to its easy availability and cheap price.

On average, addicts consume some 200,000 litres of rectified spirit each month in Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Panchagarh, unofficial sources said.

Generally, rectified spirit is used in medical formulations and sold by dispensaries, mainly homeopathic pharmacies.

As per existing rules, the government issues licenses to registered homeo practitioners. This allows such registered doctors to receive a specific quota of rectified spirit for use in homeopathic medicines.

But it is alleged that some unscrupulous homeo doctors sell the item to addicts to make windfall profit rather than using it in preparing medicine.

There are four distilleries in the country that produce rectified spirit. These are Marshall Distilleries in Panchagarh, Rangpur Distilleries in Rangpur, Jamuna Distilleries in Natore, and Carew & Company in Darshana.

Factory price of rectified spirit is Tk 24 per litre. With the addition of Tk 105.99 as excise duty and other expenses, the price per litre comes to Tk 145/155 for the item procured legally through licence.

It was learnt that a section of factory workers were selling out large quantity of rectified spirit from the distilleries at Tk 60/70 per litre depriving the government of huge revenue.

Source: The Daily Star, Dhaka, August 18, 2001

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