THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the Onam season is nearing, the Excise Department will enhance enforcement and surveillance to prevent smuggling of ganja from other states to the city. A meeting of top Excise officials will be held on July 17 to finalise the steps to be taken to arrest the flow of narcotics. Different from previous seasons, the Excise officials said they are more worried about ganja influx than illegal liquor from other states.
Since alcohol is easily available in Kerala, they felt the smugglers would be eying to bring in ganja as it’s more profitable and has got a wider market. Assistant Excise Commissioner P Ubaid said they have taken all precautionary steps to prevent smuggling of contrabands from other states.“Those who are indulged in smuggling know well that surveillance will be at its peak during Onam. So, there would be efforts from their side to smuggle it in advance and stock it for Onam sales. We have taken measures to prevent this,” he said.
The department has decided to set up control rooms at taluk level. The striking force will also be set up at Taluk levels that will operate 24x7. The department will send reinforcement to 15 excise checkpoints. Officers from other districts will be brought in in view of impending Onam season. Apart from this, intelligence collection will be enhanced. Assistant Excise Commissioner said Excise officials will be meeting their counterparts of neighbouring states soon.
“Several rounds of meetings are expected to take place between the officers. The details of habitual offenders will be shared among them during the meeting,” he said. Steps have also been taken to rejuvenate people’s committees in the panchayat, corporation, municipality and district levels. “An Excise official will act as the convenor,” Ubaid said.
Since alcohol is easily available in Kerala and its price is comparatively cheaper or on par with the price in the neighbouring states, the Excise officials are not overly worried about liquor smuggling. However, the threat of domestic brewing is still there.
“During Onam season, distillation increases domestically. There are certain ‘Onam special’ varieties that are prepared during the season only. The brewing mostly occurs in forest areas,” Excise sources said.
To counter this, the Excise department has already held talks with the Forest Department officials. The idea is to conduct special joint searches in suspected areas where brewing take place.“We have collected intel details on such brewing locations. Close to the festival season, we will conduct raids,” an Excise official told Express.