Aizawl: Even as the Election Commission (EC) has asked Mizoram government to put on hold its proposed prohibition law till Lok Sabha election process is over, the hilly north-eastern state has swung back to being “dry state” from Monday, as, all licenses of liquor vendors, warehouses and liquor cards under the existing the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition & Control) Act, 2014 (MLPC) had expired on Sunday.
All wine shops, warehouses, bars and brewery across the state were closed from Monday, an official in the state excise and narcotics department said.
According to him, there are 43 liquor shops run by private owners in the state, of which 24 were in Aizawl district, six in Kolasib district, four each in Lunglei and Serchhip districts, three in Champhai and two in Mamit district.
Besides, there are three bonded warehouses, two bars and one microbrewery in Aizawl, he added.
The MLPC Act was not implemented in three autonomous district council areas in Siaha and Lawngtlai districts.
Fulfilling its poll promises, the Mizo National Front (MNF) government headed by chief minister Zoramthanga passed the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Bill, 2019 in the assembly session on March 20, which sought to bring back total prohibition on sales of alcohol in the state, four years after the implementation of the MLPC Act which allowed opening of wine shops in the tribal state.
Earlier, the state government had planned to implement the new liquor law from April 1.
However, the Election Commission on March 28 instructed the Mizoram government not to notify the prohibition law until the completion of Lok Sabha election, as the model code of conduct has come into effect.
State excise and narcotics minister Dr K Beichhua told EastMojo that the new prohibition law will be notified and implemented as soon as election process is over.
He said that the state government is putting in efforts to ensure that all existing wine shops and warehouses remain closed.
The minister also said that the government is trying to eradicate illicit liquor factories in different parts of the state.
There are some liquor factories at Rangvamual on the outskirt of Aizawl and in other parts of the state where illicit liquor are made, Beicchua said.
He said that the government has to ban alcohol to save future generations from the menace of alcohol and drugs, and establish a clean society.
The liquor law will cost the state government of Rs 70 crore annually once it comes into effect, he added.
Prohibition was one of the main poll agendas of the ruling MNF, helping it sweep the assembly polls last year by winning 26 out 40 seats, inflicting humiliating defeat on Congress, which won only 5 against 34 it had won in the 2013 assembly polls.
Mizoram had become a dry state for about 18 years since 1997 till the Congress government led by Lal Thanhawla implemented the MLPC Act in January 2015.