LAHORE - The business of unlicensed, spurious and sub-standard alcohol is booming in the Punjab under the nose of Excise & Taxation (E&T) department, probably with the connivance of its officials in most cases.

The illegally manufactured alcohol at shabby, homemade breviaries even turns toxic sometimes, causing deaths as recently happened in Toba Tek Singh where 44 people lost their lives.

As for the production and sale of liquor at industrial level, the criminal negligence and alleged collusion of E&T can be gauged from the inaction of this department over the seizure of 30,000 litres spurious alcohol that was caught by Lahore police around three months ago.

Sources in the department revealed on Wednesday that Shafiqabad Police had seized a tanker carrying this huge quantity of illegal liquor, owned by an industrialist on September 23, near Malipura area on Bund Road and arrested the driver.

The matter was brought to the notice of Excise & Taxation (E&T) department since the owner of the industry was a licence holder. The liquor was meant to be used for industrial purposes but the owner of the industry violating the licence tried to sell it in the market for public consumption.

Even after passage of three months no action has been taken against the accused by the E&T department so far due to unknown reasons.

When contacted, E&T Additional DG Masood ul Haq said that a show cause notice has been issued to the industry owner. When asked why the notice was sent only a week ago when the case occurred three months ago, he gave an absurd reply that they were “unaware” of the matter.

DG Akram Ashraf Gondal was not available to comment.

Well-placed sources in the E&T said that the department itself was encouraging the sale of spurious liquor in the province.

About three months ago an E&T inspector seized a factory allegedly involved in preparing spurious liquor which was supposed to be supplied to two well-known hotels of the city situated on The Mall.

Instead of getting a pat on the back, the official was immediately suspended from services on the pretext that he was involved in conducting unlawful raids at the guest houses. He was reinstated after quite some time, that too on the pressure of staff association.

In Multan, a hotel owner has given contract of alcohol selling to a man who is facing more than two dozen FIRs regarding illegal sale of liquor. As per Excise Act, no one involved in any sort of crime could be given licence or contract for liquor sale. Christian Community has drawn attention of E&T DG towards this illegality and also manufacturing of spurious alcohol in the hotel but to no avail.

Similarly, people handling the liquor business in various hotels of Lahore are also involved in illegal sale of liquor. FIRs have been registered against them with Race Course, Qilla Gujjar Singh and other police stations. But they continue working in bar rooms of these hotels.

In other districts of the province there was also no check on manufacturing of illegal and spurious liquor. A few days ago 36 peoples died in Toba Tek Singh after consuming toxic liquor. Ten peoples had died in Jehlum district after consuming toxic liquor in October this year and six in January in Yohanabad Christian locality of Lahore.

E&T Secretary Dr Ahmad Bilal to a question on TT Singh incident said, “I have sent Excise Additional DG Masood there to investigate the matter, you can contact him”.