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Mumbai moonshine turns deadly for slum-dwellers

Flicker: Jean Pierre Candelier

99 people have died in a Mumbai slum. That type of headline seems pretty common for a part of India that is living in an extremely poor situation. But the second part to that story is less expected: these people were killed by a bad batch of moonshine.

Apparently it isn’t uncommon for bad, illegally, home-brewed batches of moonshine to cause deaths in India. Moonshine, you see, contains toxic levels of methanol. This isn’t something that is found on the shelves of a liquor store- it’s sold on the streets illegally and doesn’t ever go through the necessary regulations to keep people safe.

Not only have 99 people died, but another 46 people have been hospitalized from this batch. Six have been arrested for their role in pushing and selling the liquor, and eight policemen have been suspended for their negligence of responding to the deaths.

It is easy for regulations on things such as alcohol to slip through the cracks in the corners of the country like slums that are most desperate. The police suspension just goes to show how little attention the authorities give at times to the ones that need it most.

Uma Ramchandra Harijan talked to CNN about her husband who is now struggling to survive after drinking the moonshine.

He is a gutter cleaner and has to deal with the stresses of handling sickening garbage and human waste all day for very little pay. She says that people like her husband usually drink to cope with their days.

“They have to get rid of the smell, to numb their senses,” she said in the report.