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Commission blames pharmaceutical co for death of 41 people

Saturday, 26 July 2014 - 11:14pm IST | Place: Bhubaneshwar | Agency: PTI

  • The then excise minister A U Singhdeo had to resign from the Naveen Patnaik (above) cabinet owing to the hooch tragedy that claimed 41 lives.

The Justice A S Naidu has dubbed a city-based private pharmaceutical company as the 'villain' behind the death of 41 people in Cuttack and Khurda districts over two years ago and blamed lack of coordination between excise and drugs wings for the tragedy.

"The material available in record further reveal that M/S Eastern India Pharmaceutical Laboratory (EIPL) in a camouflaged way was manufacturing and selling an intoxicant beverage in the name of EPRRCARM," Justice Naidu said in the report which was tabled in Odisha Assembly by Excise and Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout.

Following the deaths of 41 people after consuming the EPEECARM between February 6 and February 9, Odisha government had set up a one man commission of inquiry headed by Justice Naidu, a former Orissa High Court judge on February 10, 2012. The commission had submitted its report with the state government on April 6, 2013.

The then excise minister A U Singhdeo had to resign from the Naveen Patnaik cabinet owing moral responsibility over the incident.

While dubbing the private phamaceutical company as the 'villain' of the entire episode, the commission in its report said, "It gives an impression that the excise officers were more eager to calculate the excise duty on the alcohol used and never bothered about the quality or safety of the product manufactured." Stating that the drugs department was completely inactive, the commission report said there was no action on its part to collect the finished product and test it to ascertain whether the same satisfied the established standard or quality and possessed medicinal value.

"The commission feels that inaction on the part of the authorities of the drugs department and excise department was writ large so far as the entire mishap is concerned. Had the said departments been a little more careful and maintained cooridination between them, the unfortunate incident could have been avoided," the report added. 

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