Liquor mafia officials nexus creates obstacles in the implementation of the Excise Policy -
Liquor mafia officials nexus creates obstacles in the implementation of the Excise Policy
Posted 26 Jul 2017 11:16 AM

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Succumbing to the pressure from deep-rooted liquor mafia-officials nexus, the Government has failed to implement key provisions of the Excise Policy, which was notified on the intervention of the State High Court with effect from April 1, 2017. Moreover, several decisions have been reversed with the sole objective of centralizing decision-making powers and to watch the interests of existing liquor license holders.
The State High Court in the month of February this year, while disposing of several petitions, had directed the State Government to review the Excise Policy in vogue at that time and come up with the new one so that utmost transparency is ensured in the grant of licenses for opening liquor vends.
Thereafter, Finance Department vide SRO-157 dated March 30, 2017, notified Excise Policy 2017-18 with much hype and mentioned that new Policy will help the Government in coming down heavily on benami ownership of all existing liquor licenses. Moreover, it was also announced that Excise Department will go for the issuance of new licenses through auction so as to ensure complete transparency and break the existing monopoly.
However, despite lapse of several months several key provisions of the Excise Policy have remained un-implemented mainly because the liquor mafia has succeeded in putting pressure on the Excise Department for ignoring those aspects which will be detrimental to their vested interests, sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “those officers and officials who have developed nexus with liquor mafia have managed to either stall the steps initiated for implementing the policy or changing their course”.
In the policy, it has been mentioned that apart from those 61 locations, which were the subject matter of Sandhya Devi case, more un-served and under-served areas would be identified for grant of new licenses in order to arrest bootlegging and illicit distillation of liquor. Moreover, the policy says that upon receipt of a demand for granting new licenses in the un-served and under-served areas, the Excise Department will grant such licenses only through e-auction mode.
It has also been mentioned that the detailed conditions and modus operandi for e-auction will be notified separately by the Excise Department.
“Though the Excise Department identified 50 locations as unserved or underserved for grant of license through e-auction yet no license could be issued till date mainly because liquor mafia managed to change the course of this exercise”, sources said, adding “even Excise Policy of several States was studied so as to come up with modus operandi for e-auction but this exercise was abruptly stalled for the reasons best known to the senior officers of the Excise Department”.
They further said, “there was no reason other than pressure from liquor mafia behind suspending this exercise after detailed work out”, adding “the mafia has also offered huge money to the Excise Department for amending some provisions of Excise Policy so as to allow the prevailing situation to continue for some more years”.
The Department of Excise vide Order No.39-E of 2013 dated April 17, 2013, had constituted a committee for fixation of Maximum Retail Price of liquor and to handle other important issues. But, last month this order was rescinded with immediate effect. “This has been done with the sole objective of centralizing the decision making powers”, sources said while disclosing that being multi-member committee it was not possible for anybody to influence its decision.
“Now after abolishing of this committee only two or three officers will exercise powers on several important issues”, they said while expressing concern over the blind eye maintained by the Government towards officers-liquor mafia nexus.
At the time of the announcement of Excise Policy 2017-18, much thrust was laid on detecting benami ownership by conducting a fresh survey of all existing licenses but this aspect has also not been given due attention till date under the pressure from liquor mafia.

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