TODAY -

CM moots amendment of Liquor Prohibition Act
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 31 2017: The onus of regulating brewing of liquor and sale cannot be left to the Government alone, asserted Chief Minister N Biren while announcing that the Government would soon launch an extensive, stringent drive against drugs, alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

He stated that the clause on 'customary practices/purposes' incorporated in the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991 must be amended.

The Chief Minister was responding to a call attention motion raised by Opposition Member K Meghachandra regarding the death of five individuals and hospitalisation of scores of others in critical condition after consuming local liquor.

Apart from the official declaration that Manipur is a dry State, the Government has been regularly carrying out extensive drives to contain abuse of intoxicating substances.

Many social organisations too have been fighting against the scourge of drugs and alcohol.

If brewing and sale of liquor must be completely banned, there must be a consensus among all the elected Members without differentiation between ruling parties and Opposition parties, said the Chief Minister.

Taking advantage of the word 'customary' as inserted in the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991, liquor brewed for 'customary purposes' is sold in commercial scale thereby giving a serious blow to the society.

So many men have died due to consumption of liquor regularly.

Now their widows and children are becoming a serious social challenge in the State, Biren stated.

The word 'customary' as mentioned in the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991 is not confined to any specific area.

The Act could have been much effective if the same word is confined to some specific areas.

If the word 'customary' is applied to 100 villages, the number of breweries would automatically increase.

Either there should be no concession on the ground of customary practices or security forces should be deployed at the gates of villages where liquor is brewed so that liquor brewed there does not find its way beyond, the Chief Minister said.

Routine drives by police and other security agencies would not be enough to control consumption of liquor and bootlegging.

If human lives should be saved, the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991 must be amended.

Noting that the issue is a very serious one, the Chief Minister stated that an all political party meeting may be convened to call an emergency session of the House in order to amend the Act or an ordinance may be put into force.

The Government is also open to the idea of regulating brewjng of liquor, not for sale inside the State but for export.

There are many schemes which provide alternative means of livelihood.

Those brewing and vending liquor may avail these opportunities rather than sticking to brewing and vending in the name of customary practices.

It's time for community leaders to understand the disastrous impacts of brewing liquor in the name of customary practice, Biren stated.

Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar who is also in charge of Excise Department stated that the death toll in the liquor tragedy has reached five.

Altogether 81 people were hospitalised but 28 people are still undergoing treatment while the others have been discharged.

In connection with the death of the five persons after consuming local liquor, Apu Kamei of Kiyam Leishangthem Kabui Khul and his mother Bina Kamei who brew liquor have been taken into police custody and an FIR has been registered against them.

Liquor samples collected from Oinam Sawombung and the places where they were brewed have been sent to Forensic Science Laboratory, Joykumar said.

He said that addition of Methyl Alcohol in the process of brewing liquor might have led to kidney failure.

Excise and police personnel have intensified drives against alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

However, police have many other duties, and checking brewing and consumption of liquor is not their primary duty.

On the other hand, Excise Department is plagued with acute shortage of manpower.

Earlier, raising the call attention motion, K Meghachandra said that the Government was unable to raid any brewery despite many laws and the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act.

The Government cannot shy away from its responsibility for the death and casualties suffered by citizens after consuming spurious liquor, Meghachandra said.

He also urged the Government to provide compensation to the deceased victims as well as monetary assistance to people who are currently undergoing treatment at different hospitals.


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