Maharashtra excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has said a private vigilance agency has been asked by the ministry to keep a watch over corrupt officers in the department amid complaints of graft and growing sale and distribution of illicit liquor.
Bawankule said his ministry has also asked the agency to collect information about the assets owned by officials and admitted that the “envelope system” – an oblique reference to bribes accepted by officials – exists in the department.
He made the announcement after meeting anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi on Wednesday.
“We have appointed private vigilance agency to keep a tab on envelope system. The agency will also collect information about the officials’ wealth as of today and how much it grew since they joined the department,” the minister said.
“Even as the new government has come to power two and half years back, the envelope system is still rampant in the state. We will take every effort to end this,” he added.
Bawankule also rapped state excise officials for the incident in Pangarmal in Ahmednagar district where 8 people died after consuming country-made liquor in February this year.
“You could have avoided Pangarmal incident. Henceforth, if there is a repeat of such incident, we will hold all officials responsible for it,” he said.
To keep a check on sale and distribution of illicit liquor, the state government has amended the Maharashtra Prohibition Act that will empower the gram sabha to constitute a squad at the village level.
The squad referred as gram rakshak dal, which has a legal backing, will supplement the excise department in curbing sale and distribution of illicit liquor.
The concept of village level squad was evolved after Bawankule met Hazare and discussed the issue.
According to Bawankule, excise department officials will have to act on the complaint submitted by village level squad within 12 hours else they will face action.