Another attempt by the state government to push the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 2nd Amendment Bill in the Assembly will attract massive agitation from the people, it warned.
TFM News Service
Coalition Against Drugs & Alcohol (CADA) on Sunday came down heavily on the state government’s push for brewing liquor in Manipur for export. Criticising the select committee’s approval to Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 2nd Amendment bill after some changes in the recently concluded monsoon session paving the way for manufacturing liquor for export, CADA said the select committee’s recommendation and Manpuri government policy is total disregard of people’s sentiment. It demanded immediate withdrawal of the bill.
Another attempt by the state government to push the bill in the Assembly will attract massive agitation from the people, it warned.
Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 2nd Amendment, which was introduced during the monsoon session of Manipur Legislative Assembly in 2018, was referred to a five-member select committee to discuss it again after the people were up in arms over the bill in a democratic way.
CADA in a press statement issued by its Secretary Information & Publicity Khundongbam Anand said The Nisha Bandhi movement was started in the 1970s by many mothers after Manipur witnessed a huge spike in alcoholism and drug addiction issues affecting many families with many youth falling prey to substance abuse in their prime age.
As a result of this movement, Manipur was declared a “Dry State” in 1991 by adopting “The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991”, it said. However, instead of enforcing and implementing the prohibition Act strictly by amending the Act to meet the challenges from time to time, the government has kept on pushing for lifting the total prohibition on the ground that the Act failed to end alcoholism in the state, it added.
It exposed the irresponsible nature of the government in the state, CADA said. It wondered how the state failed to stop liquor beverage units openly operating in the state when it could control the arm movement by successfully hunting down all the underground armed cadres.
When Bihar which has brought in the prohibition law recently could totally ban liquor there, why Manipur can’t enforce total prohibition for so many years, it asked.
Stating the customary law does not grant distillation for liquor at commercial level, the CADA said the law allowed producing of liquor required for religious and customary consumption only. Putting the blame on customary law for the failure to enforce total prohibition by the government and the select committee is a blatant lie and an act of misleading the masses, it said.
The government should not make the people of Manipur the sacrificial lamb for the political benefit of a few in the name of revenue generation and creating employment avenues, it said. It asked whether the government would be able to put exact data/ blueprint to the public to validate its claim to generate Rs 350 to Rs 400 crore revenue.
It expressed surprise at the Manipur government’s push for exporting liquor in the name of revenue collection. The state government must declare what raw material it will use for manufacturing liquor, it said. If the state is planning to manufacture liquor from rice, where will it get the rice, it asked
Putting the records straight, the CADA said Manipur has 1.9 lakh Hectares agricultural land. It produces 3.98 lakh metric ton of rice per annum. However, the state requires around 5.52 lakh metric ton rice per annum. Which means the Manipur production of rice falls deficit 1.54 lakh metric ton. The government’s plan to manufacture liquor from rice in a state which cannot produce sufficient rice for its own consumption might just be wishful thinking, it said.
“Has the state government had enough data to substantiate its claim that liquor produced in Manipur has high demand outside Manipur?” it asked. Demanding the state government share names of the countries which have placed demand for Manipur liquor, CADA said the state government should not try to take political mileage without proper planning.
“If the state government is seriously concerned about its revenue generation, Manipur is one of medicinal plants’ biodiversity hotspots. The state is home to over 1,000 medicinal plants. If the state government initiates the policy to protect and process these medicinal plants, it will help in improving Manipur’s economy without compromising health of the masses,” it said.l
Questioning the motive of the state government for trying to push for liquor only, CADA said the state government’s action will be interpreted as an attempt to drown the masses in alcohol. “Will the state government be able to promise that there won’t be the leakage of liquor manufactured for exports to the locals?” it asked.
Further CADA said the government could initiate processes to revive Khangabok Khansari Sugar Factory. Revival of this factory will help create jobs for many unemployed youth. Saying that there won’t be a shortage of raw material, it asked why the state government is not taking special interest in it.
It also questioned why the state government is not trying to revive Ukhrul District’s Hundung Cement Factory. There is no shortage of raw material, it said. Costly limestone is being wasted by allowing BRTF and other work agencies to use it on road projects, it claimed.
Further it asked, “Who is responsible for Loitang Khunnou Spinning Mill lying defunct? Why can’t it be revived? Can’t the state government establish a paper mill in Manipur, where bamboo is available abundantly to improve state’s economy?” Besides, Jiribam tea estate is running like ownerless. Nobody will hinder/oppose if the state government tries to revive these factories, it added.
Questioning the underlying motive of the state government for giving its thrust on manufacturing liquor despite people’s opposition and knowing well that it will affect the health of the masses, it asked whether there is any hidden agenda.
“If public health is secondary and revenue is primary concern, what is wrong in promoting poppy plantation in hill areas on a large scale?” it asked. It will generate more revenue than brewing and exporting liquor, it scoffed at the state government’s mindless policy.