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Turkey ramps up crackdown on bootleg alcohol ahead of New Year celebrations

A nationwide operation code-named “Alcohol,” one of the biggest so far, was launched amid a rising number of deaths from bootleg alcohol across the country…reports Asian Lite News

Amid soaring liquor prices and a currency slump, bootleg alcohol has claimed the lives of at least 75 people in two weeks in Turkey while security forces have ramped up security controls nationwide ahead of the New Year celebrations.

Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that a nationwide operation code-named “Alcohol,” one of the biggest so far, was launched amid a rising number of deaths from bootleg alcohol across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

Police and gendarmerie forces searched 23,103 locations in a crackdown on bootleg drink sellers, the Ministry said, adding 20,863 personnel took part in operations “to curb the access to smuggled or bootleg drinks to protect public health.”

Over 20,000 litres of counterfeit alcohol was seized, the police announced on Tuesday.

Four people died and two others were in critical condition after consuming bootleg alcohol on Sunday in the southern Mediterranean province of Mersin, while another person died in Ordu province in northern Turkey, bringing the overall death toll to 75 in 21 provinces, local news outlets said, quoting police statements.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, nearly 30 have died from bootleg alcohol.

Over 100 suspects have been detained in the last 10 days and tens of thousands litres of counterfeit alcohol was seized ahead of the New Year celebrations usually involving more alcohol consumption, security forces said.

Deaths from illicit alcohol poisoning are rather common in Turkey where people try to get cheaper alcohol as prices have soared in recent years amid an avalanche of taxes.

Bootleg alcohol is made from low-cost methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol. The consumption of illegally distilled liquor can cause permanent blindness, metabolic disturbances and death.

However, more people have died this year in a short period of time as the Turkish lira has lost 37 per cent of its value since the start of the year which also had an impact on alcoholic beverage prices.

“The government should decrease taxes so that people don’t go looking for cheap products,” said Ozgur Aybas, Head of Turkey’s Liquor Stores platform, adding taxes translate into more than 70 per cent of the price of alcohol.

ALSO READ: US: New Year events scaled back, cancelled amid Covid surge

However, there have been many attempts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to restrict tobacco and alcohol sales in recent years to “discourage the youth from bad habits.”

Erdogan has frequently voiced opposition to alcohol sales and consumption. In Turkey, shops are now forbidden to sell alcohol after 10 p.m. local time and it has become more difficult for stores and restaurants to obtain an alcohol license.

According to surveys, alcohol consumption remains modest in Turkey compared with European countries. Only about 20 per cent of adults drink regularly in the Muslim nation as Islam bans alcohol.

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India News Maharashtra

New policy to stop illicit liquor sale

Sisodia added the new policy will also ensure equitable distribution of liquor across the national capital….reports Asian Lite News.

The Delhi Excise Department said on Monday that it lodged 1,864 FIRs against illegal liquor traders across the city besides recovering over seven lakh bottles of illicit liquor in the last two years.

Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, said the Excise Department has arrested around 2,000 people involved in illegal liquor trade in the national capital during the same period.

Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish¬†Sisodia¬†announced lowering of legal age to drink liquor in the national capital to 21 from 25 during a press conference at Secretariat in New Delhi, India, on Monday, March 22, 2021 (Pallav Paliwal)

Talking about Delhi government’s upcoming excise policy, Sisodia told the media that the new policy is aimed at doing away with liquor mafia, besides shoring up its revenue share by up to 20 per cent in a year.

“As per the government’s record, there are around 850 registered liquor shops but people say that more than 2,000 liquor shops are run by the liquor mafias in Delhi. To curb all these irregularities and to fight the liquor mafia, we have come up with this new excise policy,” Sisodia added.

“The liquor shop owners will have to ensure law and order outside the shops. If needed, they can take the help of the police or security guards, but ensuring law and order will be the responsibility of the liquor shop owners. The new policy will stop bootlegging and illicit liquor sale,” he said.

Sisodia added the new policy will also ensure equitable distribution of liquor across the national capital.

“We have decided to set up an international standard check-up system through which we will keep a watch on low-quality liquors and stop their distribution. An international quality lab will be set up to test the quality of liquor coming into the city,” the Deputy CM said.

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