A team of experts from the Epidemiology and Disease Control Department (EDCD), Ministry of Health and Population, has revealed that the eight persons who died of ‘mysterious disease’ in Ramechhap district on Friday, in fact, did so because they consumed liquor laced with methyl alcohol, an organic compound poisonous to human beings. Another 12 people from Ramechhap suspected of taking spurious alcohol were admitted to Shahid Sukralal Hospital for Tropical and Communicable Diseases at Teku, Kathmandu. In another spate of alcohol-related deaths, six people lost their lives in Jalbire, Sindhupalchowk.

It is universally true that when law enforcement bodies lack teeth, illegal activities flourish. The same is the case with manufacturing and distribution of spurious alcohol in Nepal. There is no effective mechanism to check for adulteration of bottled alcohol. And tipplers are often unlikely to be fussy over the labelling at the end of a long and gruelling day. Unless strong action is seen to be taken against the perpetrators, those with the wrong bent of mind will have no incentive to keep from this lucrative business. It is important to send a clear message that the cost of selling lethal liquors far outweighs any benefits thereof.