Kathmandu, January 3

Police conducted coordinated raids on a dozen places in Gokarneshwor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City-6 and confiscated 500 litres of bootleg liquor, 21,000 litres of raw material used for producing hooch and 5,500 litres of tongba (millet-based alcoholic drink).

According to Metropolitan Police Office, cops also seized 10 gas stoves, 19 LPG cylinders, 130 plastic drums and 36 utensils from the illegal brewing outlets.

SSP Pooja Singh, MPO spokesperson, said the unlicensed liquor was destroyed in the presence of local representatives.

With this, the number of taverns and illegal brewing outlets raided by the Metropolitan Police Office has reached more than 250 in Kathmandu valley in the past one year. SSP Singh said police had stepped up its crackdown on the source of bootleg liquor and taverns selling it.

Bootleggers are usually found using raw materials unfit for human consumption, chemicals and animal body parts to brew hooch. Methyl alcohol is often used to spike local brew to increase its potency. Production, supply and consumption of hooch is rampant in the valley.

Bootleggers are out of tax net and supply huge quantities of liquor to the market. Bouddha, Gokareneshwor, Tokha, Swoyambhu, Kalopul, Ratopul, Balaju, Koteshwor and the outskirts of Kathmandu, especially Tinthana, Jorpati, Sundarijal, Bishnu Budhanilkantha, Chapali Bhadrakali and Manamaiju are hotspots of unlicensed liquor.

Being cheaper than licensed liquor, illicit brew is mostly consumed by low-income groups. The home ministry had recently ordered police to intensify action against unauthorised alcohol suppliers.  A report ‘Prevalence and Predictors of Alcohol Consumption among the Squatters of Kathmandu Valley’ by Nepal Health Research Council shows that 39.81 per cent of Nepal’s population consume alcohol.

Consumption of illicit liquor in Nepal is higher than that of alcoholic beverages produced by licensed firms. The study conducted in slums of the valley showed that only 22.6 per cent of squatters consumed alcoholic beverages, such as beer, whisky and vodka, manufactured by licensed firms. A big chunk of these urban poor consumed illegally-made liquor known as raksi (20.8 per cent), followed by rice or millet homebrews (13.7 per cent) and homemade alcoholic beverages such as chhyang (12.5 per cent).