RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh’s Raman Singh cabinet has decided to hold no more auctions for liquor outlet licenses in accordance with the new excise policy for the fiscal year 2017-18.The state government has also decided to sell liquor only through its retail outlets, which will be administered by the government-owned Corporation.
Previous month, the state government had decided to bring an ordinance -- Chhattisgarh Excise (Amendment) Ordinance 2017, during the upcoming budget session of the State Assembly to create a Corporation that will facilitate the sale of both foreign and Indian liquor through government outlets.
The proposed Corporation will be headed by the chief secretary. The state cabinet also decided to constitute a 11-member committee under the chairmanship of the excise secretary that will have representation from the government, civil society and the people.
The committee will soon proceed on a study tour to three states that have imposed liquor ban and another three where the sale of liquor remains under the government control. The committee will submit its report to Chhattisgarh government in three months. “The state government has gone ahead with new rules in order to keep a tab on both illicit liquor and the black market of liquor sales. The new excise policy will effectively curb the trading by liquor vendors,” the officials of the excise department said.
Activists however expressed “shock” over the cabinet’s decision. “It’s the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition, standard of living and to improve public health. And these are integral part of Right to Life guaranteed under the Article 21 and 47. We object to the decision,” said Mamta Sharma, civil rights activist, the intervener petitioner in Supreme Court seeking prohibition of liquor that finally led to banning of all liquor shops on the highways across the country.
The main opposition Congress party opposed the government’s move. The former chief minister Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh party too called the state government’s decision as “anti-people”.
The Raman Singh government also affirmed to strengthen over 200 Bharat Mata Vahinis, the women brigade created by the state in 2013 to tackle alcoholism and drug addiction.