Odisha opposition parties demand liquor prohibition

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 4: 

Many of the opposition parties of Odisha including BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party today took out a rally near Lower PMG area of Bhubaneswar demanding total prohibition in the state.

File photo. Photo: Bswaranjan Mishra
File photo. Photo: Biswaranjan Mishra

The agitators, backed by political parties and various civil society organisations including Milita Odisha Nisha Nibarana Abhiyan, Milita Mahasangha of Daringbadi and Sachetana Nagarika of Kandhamal, demanded implementation of Orissa Prohibition Act, 1956 in the state.

“Liquor trade has shaken off the financial and social backbone of Odia society. The government earns about Rs 2500 crore in revenue from liquor trade, but it can be earned by various other means too. The government is risking lives of four crore Odias for Rs 2500 crore. If Bihar can afford to lose Rs 4000 crore, why can’t Odisha! The sole point is, the government doesn’t intend to do so,” commented Odisha Congress Spokesperson Sulochana Das.

Few meters away from Das, BJP Mahila Morcha President Simantini Jena was seen sloganeering, “liquor sale has to stop. Violence against women has to stop. Don’t spoil the youth. The government can’t run on liquor revenue”.

Excise Minister Damodar Rout, however, termed total prohibition impractical.

“We should always aspire for total prohibition but that would be an impractical decision to make. It would lead to bootlegging and increased sales of hooch. Gujarat has enforced liquor ban but illicit trade continues. About 200 people died on a hooch related incident there,” said Rout.

“The government, however, can take a decision like Nitish Kumar has done in Bihar. My personal opinion is, instead of attempting for prohibition, we should aim to tame the expansion of alcohol trade,” he added.

Notably, Rout had earlier commented that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the only one to have a final say on total prohibition in the state as we reported here.