Imphal: Days after the Manipur state cabinet resolved to lift prohibition partially on sale, consumption and brewing of alcohol in the state, the Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) on Friday termed the government’s decision as ‘unfortunate’.
It also asked the state government to immediately revoke the decision and threatened to intensify agitations if their demand is not met.
CADA has also urged the government to strictly impose the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 and constitute a committee to monitor the sale of liquor.
Speaking to EastMojo, Geetchandra Mangang, CADA secretary general, said the decision taken by the state government was ‘hasty’ and asked whether the cabinet lifted the prohibition under the influence of business tycoons who would benefit the most from it.
As per the 2019-20 report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Manipur ranked fifth in the list of top alcohol-consuming states, which is very unfortunate. The government needs to implement liquor prohibition and also ban all kinds of substances that are harmful to society, said CADA secretary general Mangang.
While appreciating the state government’s war on drugs to uproot the drug menace to keep the youth safe from drug abuse, Mangang cautioned that legalising the sale of alcohol would only weaken the campaign since alcohol also comes under the Manipur State Drug Policy.
“So, if we lift the prohibition on alcohol, the state’s drug policy will be contradicted and the war on drugs campaign may also fail. That’s why CADA demands a white paper on the benefits of legalising alcohol in the state and make it public,” said Mangang.
Mangang also maintained that since 1970 many civil society organisations, including mothers of the state, have been organising movements to stop the sale and consumption of alcohol because many people, especially male members of the society, have been affected due to its consumption.
For the last 16 years, CADA has been supporting the movements and has conducted drives at least five to six times a month, informed Mangang.
CADA used to seize around 9,600 litres of alcohol in a year during these drives, he said.
He further stated that in 2018, the state government proposed a bill in the assembly with an aim to generate revenue since imposing the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 caused a huge loss in income generation. However, the cabinet twisted the agenda and lifted the prohibition on grounds of health concerns, he said.
Will the people in the state be healthier by consuming legalised and Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and completely stop social problems like domestic violence and crimes related to alcohol, he questioned.
Mangang went on to ask whether the government has the actual figures for kidney failures and liver cirrhosis caused by the consumption of unregulated alcohol as the cabinet decided to legalise alcohol based on health issues.
“We have no survey data or study on the impact of alcohol. They (government) are assuming that if we drink more quality alcohol, such health issues like liver cirrhosis will decrease,” said Mangang, while demanding the government’s clarification on the statement.
Even consumption of quality or expensive alcohol has a bad impact on health and can cause liver cancer, said Mangang while adding that the government’s concern was not just health but an increase in the state’s revenue.
Commenting on the government’s plan to export locally brewed liquor, Mangang questioned the kind of raw materials to be used and if the state could guarantee that the locally-brewed alcohol would not percolate to the local market.
As per the cabinet’s decision on Tuesday, the sale of liquor will be confined to specific locations, including district headquarters, security camps, tourist spots and hotels having at least 20-bedded lodging facilities.
Manipur officially became a dry state with the passing of the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991. However, the Act was exempted for members of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities to brew liquor for traditional purposes.
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