An all-party delegation led by Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly and Jorhat MLA Hitendra Nath Goswami on Friday visited Golaghat and Jorhat districts to investigate the deaths of more than 150 people who reportedly died due to consumption of spurious liquor.
The 21-member delegation visited Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) here and interacted with the remaining 56 patients.
The delegation comprised Opposition leader in the State Assembly Debabrata Saikia; Assam Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Pijush Hazarika; Minister of State (I/c) for Labour and Employment Pallab Lochan Das among others.
Dr Nilotpal Bhattacharjee, a doctor of JMCH and public relations officer, said following the visit, a meeting was held with doctors of departments concerned which included medicine, ophthalmology and forensics.
The MLAs said all support would be provided to the patients and asked the doctors to refer patients, especially those who might suffer complications in their eyesight, to experts from outside the state if required.
Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami said that he was in contact with top ophthalmologists in the country and if required their services could be availed.
Bhattacharjee said while the conditions of six patients were stated to be critical, nine were at risk of losing or facing vision problems.
He further said he has asked the district administration to destroy publicly all the molasses seized.
The delegation visited Halmira tea garden and Usha tea garden in Golaghat district and Borholla tea estate,
Rajabari tea garden and Gorajan village in Jorhat district.
People in these affected areas revealed that despite complaints to Excise against illegal hooch distributors they did not respond and till date no arrests of molasses distributors had taken place though raids and several quintals of the substance used for making hooch had been seized by the police.
The people further said that these molasses were produced in Bihar where alcohol was now banned and brought here as cattle feed and then distributed to the hooch makers.
The four people who are involved in selling molasses which have been seized in Jorhat are Anil Agarwalla, Jay Kumar Agarwalla, Mohan Chaudhury and Mahesh Beria.
A source, however, said that they had licenses to sell the product to farmers.
On Friday evening, however, Damboru Gogoi of Uttar Hatisoonggi village has been arrested for manufacturing molasses and equipment used for the same were seized from his house.
Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia said there was a nexus of corrupt people in the government who had allowed this illicit liquor business to thrive at cost of innocent lives.
“No raids had been carried out and there is neglect in governance by not monitoring such activities by concerned officials for personal benefit. Ministers are responsible as we had claimed in Panchayat election time that the government was collecting election funds from various departments including excise officials and encouraging corruption,” Saikia said.
Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Roshni A Korati said the administration has received the compensation amount of Rs 2 lakh each for the 60 people died in Jorhat district.