Gujarat Struggles With Toxic Alternatives To Alcohol

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Gujarat Struggles With Toxic Alternatives To Alcohol

| Updated: December 11, 2023 17:36

Industrial-grade solvents and banned chemicals are becoming the new drugs of choice in central Gujarat

Industrial-grade solvents and banned chemicals are becoming the new drugs of choice in central Gujarat, spreading their tentacles across the state and leaving a trail of addiction and death.

Chloral Hydrate, a banned sedative, has become a popular substitute for alcohol and expensive synthetic drugs. Trafficked under the radar for a decade, it’s now fueling a “chemical toddy” epidemic, with 122 cases of attempted culpable homicide filed against peddlers in Anand alone since 2019.

But Chloral Hydrate isn’t the only threat. In Kheda, a deadly cocktail of Ayurvedic syrup laced with toxic methanol has claimed seven lives. This “Meghasav” is easily available due to a loophole in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which exempts retailers from requiring licenses.

The common thread in these tragedies?

  • Chloral Hydrate, despite its health risks and widespread abuse, falls outside the purview of the Gujarat Prohibition Act, NDPS Act, and the Poisons Rules.
  • Exemptions in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act allow retailers to sell Ayurvedic syrups, even those containing alcohol, without a license.

These loopholes create a fertile ground for traffickers, who are making a killing by peddling these deadly substances at rock-bottom prices – Rs. 20 per glass for “Chemical Toddy” and Rs. 100 per bottle of “Meghasav.”

While authorities have recently apprehended key figures in both networks, the systemic issues remain. Unless the government acts to ban Chloral Hydrate in Gujarat and address the regulatory loopholes in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, these tragedies are destined to repeat.

The cost of these cheap thrills is organ failure, addiction, and death. This is not just a law and order issue; it’s a public health crisis that demands immediate attention.

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