Odisha: Gond's liquor ban proposal sparks debate on economic impact

Liquor is currently banned in Gujarat, Bihar, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. Express

BHUBANESWAR: Minister for Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Nityananda Gond on Wednesday asserted the state government is working towards a liquor free Odisha.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of International Day Against Drug Abuse, Gond said the government just cannot encourage liquor sales fearing revenue loss as alcohol addiction is ruining lives and the society.

“Liquor has been banned in several states. Our government is also committed to do so. Necessary steps will be taken to stop sale of liquor and drugs after discussions with Excise and other related departments. We will try to make Odisha liquor-free in a phased manner,” said Gond, who is also the Minister for School and Mass Education and ST&SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare.

Liquor is currently banned in Gujarat, Bihar, Mizoram and Nagaland. Earlier, the state government had enacted the Orissa Prohibition Act, 1956 to introduce and extend the prohibition on the manufacture, sale and consumption of liquor and drugs in the state. But the Act is yet to be notified and enforced.

In 2022, Orissa High Court had dismissed a PIL filed in 2013 taking note of the state government’s stand that ban on production and sale of alcohol may not achieve the object of weaning away people from liquor. Complete ban may result in proliferation of illicit liquor and increased use of prohibited drugs. The PIL sought enforcement of the 1956 act. Even as Gond’s statement fuels speculation, economists say the government has to tread carefully as the state earns around Rs 10,000 crore annually from sale of liquor alone.

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