Rs 20 crs expected from lifting liquor ban in hills
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 04: Dispelling any discriminatory motives in the decision to lift prohibition from the hill areas while leaving out the valley areas, Excise Commissioner JC Ramthanga today said the State Excise Department has been mulling over the idea for long.

He also pointed out the State coffer will receive an additional revenue of Rs 20 crs per year once the decision is implemented.

Stating the decision has not been enforced yet even though the Cabinet had decided to lift prohibition in the hills areas, he said its enforcement will be effected after the State Assembly passes a Bill and issue relevant Gazette notifications.

The Excise Department, without discrimination for any community or region, is positive to the decision to lift prohibition from the hills.

He acknowledged the protest against the move from certain sections of people but said the Government in particular and the people as a whole stand to gain from the move.

Ramthanga said the five hill districts of Ukhrul, Churachandpur, Chandel, Senapati and Tamenglong have 16 Excise posts.

They include Sapermeina, Kangpokpi, Senapati, Tadubi, Lairouching, Ukhrul, Jessami, Saikul, Kangchup, Noney, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Sugnu, Moreh, Pallel and Chandel.

Once the ban is lifted, Government expects to receive Excise duty of Rs 20 crs from the 16 posts, he said and added the total Excise duty received by the State both from hills and valley district for the current year is Rs 13,74,046 against the target of Rs 2 crs.

On the illegal running of IMFL shops and country liquor vendors in the State, the Excise Commissioner said the vendors or the owners are booked and made to pay fine if complaints are received from the public.

The fine amount sometimes reaches Rs 10,000.He disclosed that according to the Excise Act, the police, security forces, volunteers of clubs, organizations and meira paibi lups are not allowed to seize liquor, impose fines and destroy the seized liquor.

If they happen to seize liquor, they should hand over the same to the nearest Excise post, he said adding all these are the responsibility of the Excise Department.

Ramthanga in no uncertain terms also said that collection of fine by police or security forces from the liquor vendors are not allowed and such actions will be deemed to have been done for their own gain.

Meanwhile, small time liquor vendors have complained that police and other State forces have been collecting fines from them regularly while canteens of security forces are allowed free sale of liquor.

They also said that business has not been good during the past few years and the sale proceeds have come down substantially.

On the other hand, City Police officials said they are presently conducting a drive for closing down illegal liquor vendors and arresting drunks in and around Imphal city area.

The arrested persons are produced before courts and given proper punishment, they added.

Though the State Government has not legalized the liquor trade in the State, mushrooming of liquor vendors has not stopped.