With the bugle for panchayat elections being sounded, liquor business in the district has received a major boost. This is because all the political parties are inducing the voters with, among other things, liquor.
And to meet the increased demand, the liquor syndicates in the district appear to have ignored the State Election Commission- imposed restriction on the sale of liquor - that the quantity should be the same as in July last year. Having already exhausted 50 p.c. of this month’s quota, the syndicates are smuggling liquor from Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra and selling it in the villages.
According to a source, there are two liquor depots in the district -- one in Mancherial and one in Uttnoor region -- which supply liquor to 183 wine shops and 22 bars and restaurants. In last July, 1,19,330 cartons of full bottles of all varieties of liquor and 1,07,201 cartons of beer bottles, total worth about Rs 43 crore, were sold by the depots. This July, so far the depots have sold 60,334 cartons of full bottles of all varieties of liquor and 52,311 cartons of beer bottles, worth Rs 26 cr.
Considering this quantity as insufficient to meet the demands of the political parties, liquor syndicates are smuggling the heady brews from Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra (Nanded and Balarshah regions).
It is a well-known fact that the liquor syndicates have the backing of political leaders belonging to different parties and that they ‘manage’ the excise, police and other officials through bribes.
The excise police had seized a liquor-laden lorry near Lakshimpur checkpost in Talmadugu mandal on June 9. The lorry, coming from Nanded, was found to contain liquor worth Rs 25 lakh. However, for some unknown reasons, the excise police did not arrest the lorry owner or any other important person connected with the smuggling. This has only emboldened the liquor syndicates.