Maharashtra excise minister Eknath Khadse said the state government is considering amending the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act to ensure those involved in the sale and distribution of illicit liquor are imprisoned at least for a year.
While admitting that illegal liquor dens operate across the state, Khadse said on Monday that stricter provisions need to be introduced.
“There were 117 raids on illicit liquor dens and shops in past six months. There is no doubt that they operate in the city, but the culprits are let off with a fine of only around Rs 2000. We are now planning to make the legal provisions stringent. We will bring an amendment in the coming session to make a provision for imprisonment of up to one year,” he added.
Officials from the home department, however, claimed the Act has the provision of imprisonment up to one year, but it has not yet been invoked in Malvani case.
Khadse, who had ordered the suspension of four officers of his department last week, said his department was seeking more teeth in action against such operators. “The powers to seize the vehicles used in supply of illicit liquor lie with the forest department. We are demanding the powers be transferred to us. We are also mulling a provision of sealing buildings or premises where such activities take place,” he added.
The minister said after imposing liquor ban in Chandrapur about five months ago, there is rising demand from other districts such as Nagpur, Yeotmal and cities like Pandharpur and Tulajapur for the ban.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has sought the resignation of both chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Khadse for the hooch tragedy. “The people are dying by the hour while our chief minister is busy performing yoga. Instead of dealing with the issue seriously, all he has done is suspended low-ranking police officials…. Such a trade cannot flourish without the help of the police,” he said.