Maharashtra government lifts liquor sale ban in Chandrapur

Maharashtra government lifts liquor sale ban in Chandrapur

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The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday decided to lift the liquor ban imposed on Chandrapur district by the previous BJP-led government. The decision was taken following an expert committee’s recommendation and to stop largescale illegal sale of liquor in the district.

In April 2015, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had prohibited the sale of alcohol in the district and revoked all 500 liquor licenses. In the last five years, the government is said to have incurred a revenue loss of Rs 1,606 in excise duty and Rs 964 crore in sales tax in Chandrapur.

There had been a demand to review the ban and during a debate in the state Assembly in 2018, then state excise minister had promised to appoint a committee for the same. A committee headed by retired former principal secretary Ramanath Jha was set up in January this year for this purpose.

The committee, which submitted its report on March 9, concluded that the execution of the ban has been largely unsuccessful and illegal and duplicate liquor is available in the district’s black market.

This has not only increased black-marketing of liquor but the state government has incurred revenue loss while criminals have benefited financially, it had said.

Besides, the growing involvement of women and children in illicit liquor trade has created a worrying situation, the committee had said, adding that a majority of organisations and people have voted in favour of lifting the ban.

The ban has led to a sharp rise in anti-social activities and crime in Chandrapur. While 16,132 police cases were registered in 2010-2014, 40,381 cases were registered in 2015-2019 after the ban was imposed. While 1,729 cases were registered against women before the alcohol ban, 4,042 cases were registered against women later.

From the district, local residents, gram panchayats, teachers and women’s as well as social and religious organisations had submitted 2.69 lakh memorandums to the district collector. While 2.43 lakh supported the lifting of the ban, over 25,000 supported the ban.

With this, liquor consumption is now banned in only two districts – Wardha and Gadchiroli – of the state.

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