Bhubaneswar: Odisha Assembly Friday witnessed pandemonium over the recent hooch tragedy which claimed at least 40 lives, with opposition Congress demanding resignation of the state Health Minister on moral ground.

The issue was raised during the question hour when Health Minister Prasanna Acharya was replying a question on the raids conducted by the department on Chemist stores dealing with alcohol mixed medicines.

As certain medicines tested positive to the presence of deadly methanol, it was duty of the Health minister to own responsibility, alleged Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress demanding resignation of Acharya.

Singh's party colleague Santosh Singh Saluja also demanded the Health minister's resignation saying it was proved that the deceased persons had also consumed the liquor having medicine content. "The health minister should tender resignation owing moral responsibility," Saluja reiterated his demand during the zero hour also.

Earlier, the then Excise minister A U Singhdeo had resigned from the ministry on the moral ground.

Health minister Prasanna Acharya, however, blamed the Centre for not amending the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 which allowed the pharmaceutical companies to manufacture medicines having alcohol content.

"The state government tries to ban sale of such alcohol content medicines, it cannot stop their circulation due to lack of provision under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act," the minister pointed out.

Though the government in the past had banned manufacture and sale of such alcohol content medicines, the pharmaceutical companies stalled it by securing orders from the judicial courts. "The state government had twice banned manufacture of such alcohol containing medicines in 1989 and 2002. But the pharmaceutical companies could successfully nullify it," Acharya said.

NCP legislature party leader Amar Prasad Satpathy alleged that the Controller of Drugs utterly failed to prevent circulation of spurious medicines in the state.

"The government cannot hang the persons found out of track. There should be legal backing to the government's efforts to stop circulation of such medicines," the minister said.