Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, June 9:
Widespread protests particularly by women against the opening of liquor shops in Odisha’s rural and tribal areas have had its effect on the state government.
In a significant intervention, the state Excise minister Dr Damodar Rout, while cautioning Excise department officials against taking these protests lightly, advised them to pay due importance to the views of concerned gram panchayats before opening any new liquor shop within their jurisdiction.
Reviewing the performance of the Excise department at a state level meeting at the Board of Revenue office here Dr Rout said while excise revenue was a major contributor to the state exchequer, liquor was a social menace.
“Liquor and drugs are the root causes of several social problems as well as crime,” he pointed out.
Dr Rout directed the Excise department sleuths to act strongly against bootleggers and drug peddlers in the state.
It was revealed during the meeting that in the last fiscal, more than 17,000 excise cases were registered against bootleggers and drug peddlers in the state and as many as 12,000 persons arrested.
The revenue earnings of the Excise department stood at Rs 1780.29 crore in 2013-14 as compared to nearly Rs 1,500 crore in 2012-13.
The department has set a revenue target of Rs 2,150 crore in 2014-15 , the meeting was told.