Instead of focusing on bringing normalcy and restoring peace in the ethnic strife-torn state, the government is more concerned about allowing the sale, production and consumption of liquor, Nupi Samaj, CADA said
All Manipur Women’s Social Reformation & Development Samaj (Nupi Samaj) and Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) on Tuesday came down heavily on the State Cabinet’s decision on the legalization of liquor and demanded its rollback.
The state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday cleared Manipur Excise (Amendment) Rule 2023 for legalizing brewing, possession, import, export, purchase, sale and consumption of liquor. The decision came despite strong objections from civil society organizations. As per reports, the relevant gazette notification with detailed rules and regulations for the legalization will be published on December 6.
A report said Manipur Excise (Amendment) Rule 2023 is in line with a Cabinet decision adopted earlier in September 2022 to partially lift the ban on brewing, consumption, and sale of liquor to boost the State’s revenue as well as minimize health hazards caused by the consumption of illicit alcohol.
Criticising the decision to do away with the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991 restricting the sale, brewing and consumption of liquor, Nupi Samaj and CADA said the state government’s move that came at a time when the state has been reeling under ethnic conflict for more than seven months is very unfortunate. Instead of focusing on bringing normalcy and restoring peace in the ethnic strife-torn state, the government is more concerned about allowing the sale, production and consumption of liquor, they added.
Maintaining drug and alcohol abuse is the biggest challenge being faced by the state, the statement said 80 per cent of the state’s total population used some form of intoxicants. It blamed alcoholism for criminal activities, including murder, violent clashes, crime against women and children, and road fatalities. Domestic violence and crimes against women and children are reported daily due to alcoholism, it added.
The statement said unable to bear the menace of alcoholism, the women of Manipur started the Nisa Band movement in 1970. The movement is still on in every locality, and village of Meira Paibis/nisaband to combat alcoholism and drug addicts and CADA has been conducting awareness campaigns against the use of drugs and alcohol, it added.
It also slammed previous governments for their failure to strictly enforce the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 introduced by the then MPP government led RK Ranbir. Mentioning the Ibobi government’s aborted attempt to legalize liquor, the statement lamented the Biren government did not pay heed to the widespread protests by Nupi Samaj, CADA and other CSOs against the September 20, 2022 Cabinet decision for a partial lifting of prohibition.
Citing various failed projects like Loktak Project, Loitang Khunou’s Spinning Mill, Hundung’s Cement Factory, Jiri’s Bamboo Chipping Plant, Wangbal’s Khanshari Sugar Mill, Nupi Samaj and CADA questioned what guarantee this government has that new liquor policy will be able to generate revenues. It alleged that the government might be acting under the influence of a lobby by a few profit-motivated entrepreneurs.