Bhubaneswar:  Odisha Excise Minister A U Singhdeo on Thursday resigned on moral grounds following the hooch tragedy in Cuttack and Khurda districts which left 30 dead and 65 others battling for lives in hospitals.

Singhdeo sent his resignation through a special messenger to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's office which was accepted.

"A U Singdeo sent his letter of resignation to me today. He has expressed his desire to quit the cabinet on moral grounds. I have forwarded his letter to the governor for acceptance," the chief minister told reporters.

Singdeo, on his part, said, "I personally felt that to pave the way for a free and fair enquiry, I should resign."

On whether he was under any pressure to resign, he said, "under the circumstances my conscience felt that I should step down on moral grounds. I am sure truth will prevail. Police and judicial enquiry will find the truth."

On Wednesday, Cuttack district collector Girish S N had expressed doubt as to whether it was a case of hooch tragedy saying the people died after drinking spurious medicines and not liquor and many cough syrup bottles were seized from a joint in Mahidharpada area where the tragedy occurred on Monday.

Perhaps referring to this, the minister said, "the medicine consumed by the people had liquor input so this unfortunate incident took place."

The toll in the tragedy rose to 30 during the day after one person died at the SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack, official sources said.

While 61 people were being treated at the hospital, four others were undergoing treatment at the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar.

Samples from bottles sent for forensic test were found to contain methyl alcohol, a senior official said. A judicial inquiry has been ordered and eight persons have been arrested.

Opposition political parties, including the Congress and BJP, have been demanding resignation of the chief minister and Singhdeo holding the BJD government responsible for the liquor tragedy.

Singhdeo is the sixth minister to quit since BJD came to power for the third time in 2009.

In February last year Pramila Malik had resigned as women and child development minister, while Pravin Bhanjdeo, Damodar Rout and B Hariha had been dropped in May last year from the ministry.

Similarly Pradip Maharathy had resigned last month as agriculture minister over the Pipili rape episode.