Assam Legislators demand liquor prohibition orders

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Guwahati, Mar 4 (UNI) Assam legislators today demanded total prohibition of liquor in the state and urged state Excise minister Gautam Roy to bring in a legislation to this effect.

The Assembly also expressed concern at the increase in liquor consumption in the state.

The Excise Minister, replying to a question by Independent MLA Pranab Kalita, informed the House that sale of country spirit had risen from 48,74,676 LPL in 2005-06 to 52,76,631 LPL in 2006-07 and that of foreign liquor (IMFL) from 1,89,04,778 LPL to 2,16,13,249 LPL while that of Beer from 74,36,467 BL to 91,63,384 BL.

About 5,07,49,533 LPL of IMFL was being sold in the state every day with 1,78,93,333 BL Beer, both generating about Rs 43 lakh revenue per day. In case of country spirit, 1,09,75,466 LPL was sold every day, generating Rs three lakh as revenue.

Mr Kalita, expressing concern at the increase in liquor consumption in the state, urged the minister to bring in total prohibition.

The minister, in his reply, said the government could not impose prohibition immediately as it would impact the revenue generation as well as result in pressure from various sections of the society, both consumers and those related with sales.

He also added that liquor consumption had become a ''custom'' and it would be difficult to convince people through a prohibition law.

CPI(M) legislator Ananta Deka, reacting to Mr Roy's assertions, said revenue collection should not be a deterrent for the general welfare of the society and any ''harmful custom'' must be discouraged.

''The Assam Assembly should create a deviation and press for prohibition. The government should concentrate on revenue generation from socially conducive ways,'' he added.

Other members of the Assembly also joined them and urged the minister to impose prohibition in the state, though the minister refused to give any assurance on taking up such a step.

UNI SG DPM AKJ KN1420

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