Kolleru lake, a famous tourist destination known for fishing and as a birds paradise, has of late become a safe haven for Illicitly Distilled (ID) liquor manufacturing. Police were shocked when they identified an ID liquor brewing unit in the middle of the lake on the borders of Krishna-West Godavari district.
More than 50 policemen led by Krishna district Superintendent of Police (SP) Siddharth Kaushal, Gudivada Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) N. Satyanandam and Kaikalur town CI Y.V.V.L. Naidu went into the lake and raided the unit, located about 3km from Pandiripalligudem village in Kaikalur Mandal.
Aided by satellite images and videos taken by drones, police travelled from Kaikalur to Pandiripalligudem by road, along with a media crew, local fishermen and Excise Department personnel. They took four boats from a wooden bridge (locally known as ‘karrala vantena’) to reach the spot located in thick bushes.
After reaching the spot in heavy rain, the SP, DSP and other police officers took small fishing boats to reach the exact location, situated half a kilometre away amidst ‘Kikkisa grass’ that grows up to 15ft high. The officers and the media personnel were stunned when they saw the arrangements made for brewing ID liquor on a ‘mancha’ (a wooden platform built at a height in the lake).
“The ‘mancha’ was built at five feet in water with wooden rafts. The accused arranged utensils, drums, water cans, stoves, jaggery and other material to prepare the ID liquor,” said Siddharth Kaushal.
“The operation was completed in six hours on Wednesday. After travelling for one hour in the lake we reached the spot in thick vegetation, which was horrible. Police seized about 100 drums, ten gas stoves and cooking gas cylinders, many utensils and water cans, 50,000 litres of jaggery wash and 1,000 litres of ID liquor,” said Kaikalur SI Challa Krishna, who led the team to the spot.
The DSP said that the gang was using gas stoves to prevent the emanating of smoke, which will help in finding the brewing point. Four persons of Akiveedu, Pandiripalligudem and Alapadu were arrested in the case, Mr. Satyanandam said.
“More than 20 persons might have been involved in the racket. We suspect that the accused were organising the ID liquor manufacturing den in Kolleru lake for more than two years. Instructions have been given to probe deep into the illegal trade,” the SP told The Hindu.
“Police used ten boats and deployed three CIs, 10 SIs, Special Branch and Intelligence officials to raid the ID liquor unit in the lake. Cases have been registered against the accused,” Siddharth Kaushal said.
The CI said that the accused were selling arrack to about 15 villages in West Godavari and Krishna districts.
“They were using boats to shift the ID liquor stocks to Kolleti Kota, Dumpagadapa, Pedda Kottada, Penchikalamarru, Pandiripalligudem and other lake bed villages,” Mr. Naidu said.
Siddharth Kaushal said the accused were disturbing the ecology and fishing activity in the water body. Stern action will be taken against the ID liquor manufacturers and sellers, he warned.