Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy slammed Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for politicising the Jangareddygudem deaths for their own vested interests and said TDP should refrain from spreading false propaganda on illicit liquor. Eighteen people died after consuming spurious liquor in West Godavari this week.
Jagan said not all deaths occurred in the same place and added that 18 deaths have been registered in the municipality. He accused the TDP of distorting facts and politicising natural deaths. The population of Jangareddygudem was 48,994 according to the 2011 Census and considering the 12% growth during the decade, it would be 54,880. Jagan said the death rate is estimated at 2% across the country and the state which means at least 90 people die naturally due to illness, old age, or accidents.
The CM said country-made liquor is not new and it was there during the TDP regime too. It still exists and that is why the state has set up a special police force called the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB). He said orders have been given to take stringent measures to curb illicit liquor in the state. He said the government intends to reduce the consumption of alcohol and has closed down 43,000 belt shops after coming to power. Jagan added that there were 4,380 alcohol shops with permit rooms that allowed 50-60 people to drink in those rooms. The state government has abolished permit rooms after coming to power, he said.
The Chief Minister said that while liquor was available everywhere through belt shops during the TDP regime, the state government has taken over the liquor shops and is running them. They are now closing at fixed times, he said while reminding that liquor used to be sold till 12 or 1 a.m during the TDP rule. He also said that more than 13,000 cases were registered against those involved in illicit liquor business.
"Consumption of alcohol has reduced in the state due to the new high rates. The high cost of alcohol has led to an increase in illicit liquor and based on the recommendations of SEB and Opposition parties, the rates were again reduced", said CM. He questioned why consumption of illicit liquor would increase after the prices of alcohol is reduced.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister (health) Alla Krishna Srinivas said he along with other officials visited the victims' families in Jangareddygudem. The TDP has been making baseless allegations to gain political mileage, he alleged. He said a section of media has deliberately filed reports against the state government on Jangareddygudem issue and added that 18 deaths happened over a week and 15 of them died in their homes. He said the state government has ordered a post-mortem to be conducted for two people who died in hospital. The reports are yet to come and the cause of death will be known once the reports are out, he added. Jagan slammed TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu for visiting Jangareddygudem only to politicise the deaths and questioned if the Opposition leader went to console the victims or to show their strength.