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Excise minister defends proliferation of liquor trade ; says youths and students are not going astray nor the rural life and economy is getting ruined

Bhubaneswar, 19/11: The statement of the state excise minister Niranjan Pujari in defence of the proliferation of liquor trade across the state has surprised everybody.

It is known to all that liquor is the major cause of death in road accident, rise in domestic violence and general violence. The adverse effect of liquor on the rural life and economy is distinct. In a nut shell, liquor is the root cause of all the social evils.

However, the view of the excise minister is completely different and opposite from the public view. It’s not true that the youths go astray and the rural life and economy gets destroyed due to liquor, he says. The minister has opined this in reply to a written question of ruling BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik.

Patnaik had wanted to know from the minister as to what was the number of country and foreign liquor shops in 2014 and how many are these now. How much the excise revenue has gone up over the said five year period ? Will the government bring out a balanced excise policy by conducting an impartial survey as the student and youth community are getting astray under influence of liquor and the rural life and economy is destroyed due to proliferation of liquor trade, asked Patnaik.

Minister Pujari replied that the number of country and foreign liquor shops has gone up to 3576 by 2019 March end from 3490 in 2014. The excise revenue has grown from Rs 1780.29 crore to Rs 3925.41 crore over the said period.

“However, it’s not true that the excise revenue growth is due to proliferation of liquor business. The government introduces new excise policy from April 1 every year. The rate of license fee and excise duty of country and foreign liquor shops are revised in the new policy”, said the minister.

Similarly, the adverse impact of liquor on the character building of  student-youth community and on the rural life and economy is not factual, said the minister. “It’s not intention of the government to ruin the rural life by increase in excise revenue through proliferation of the liquor business. Government issues license to country and foreign liquor sales outlets to cater to needs of those habituated with drinking and prevent the illicit liquor trade”, said Pujari.

The wide gap between the real fact and the government policy is clearly evident from the minister’s statement. Several states across the country have imposed restriction on liquor trade, where as in Odisha the state government is opening more and more liquor shops, instead of imposing curb. Its outcome is well known to every body.

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