Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 5:

With only a week to go for Odisha panchayat polls, the State Government has asked Excise Department officials to take strict action against the culprits to curb illegal liquor trade in the state.

Besides, the Excise Department has issued a fresh notification directed at its officials asking them to ensure that that the contraband is not sourced from neighbouring states.

“Massive raids shall be conducted on suspected places and accused persons arrested involved in illegal liquor in violation of Bihar and Orissa Excise Act. Excise raids shall be conducted by Multi Disciplinary Squad which is constituted under the concerned Collectors of districts,” says the notification.

It further adds that excise raids shall be conducted by Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur EI and EB units as per the availability of intelligence with regard to production or sale of illegal liquor.

Briefing about the move, Excise Minister Damodar Rout today said, “In view of panchayat polls, we have decided to deploy excise staff across the state to keep a tab in illicit liquor trade. Besides, Excise staff is being deployed in border areas to prevent entry of illegal sprit from other states. They have been asked to step up patrolling round the clock and arrest the culprits.”

Opposition parties, however, casted their doubt over the move.

While Congress treasurer Mohammed Moquim called the move “eyewash”, BJP’s Golak Mohapatra said that the move is intended at diverting public attention.

“We welcome the policy, but Biju Janata Dal never intended such a policy to work. I am certain of its failure. They are only trying to divert the public attention,” said Mohapatra.

In a related development, an all-party meeting called by the State Election Commission (SEC) also discussed the issue of illegal liquor trade and free liquor distribution among voters to influence the panchayat poll outcome in the state.