Explained | Why Manipur govt decided to partially lift liquor prohibition
Increase in liver and kidney diseases among a section of the population due to consumption of illicit liquor is said to be the main reason behind the decision to partially lift liquor prohibition in Manipur
More than three decades after liquor prohibition was enforced in Manipur, the government in the northeastern state on Tuesday decided to lift the ban partially. Increase in liver and kidney diseases among a section of the population due to consumption of illicit liquor illegally imported to the state was said to be the main reason for the move.
Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991
Manipur was declared as a dry state in 1991 after enacting Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 following public demand particularly from women’s groups because of the social and domestic issues arising out of consumption of alcohol.
Post prohibition scenario
There are reports that liver cirrhosis and kidney diseases are on the rise in the state. Many people who consumed unregulated liquor are suffering from such diseases, apart from creating domestic violence cases. In many of his speeches, chief minister N Biren Singh mentioned about the increase in the number of widows in the state due to many factors including unregulated alcohol. There is, however, no exact data on such deaths.
Communities allowed to produce alcohol
The scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities are allowed brewing liquor for traditional and religious purposes. For instance, the scheduled caste villages particularly Andro, Phayeng and Sekmai are currently producing the local brew. Similarly some of the tribal pockets in Imphal produce rice bear and local liquor as they are exempted from purview of the state’s liquor prohibition Act on account of their customary laws.
Impact on economy
The previous Congress led government in Manipur had said revenue of around ₹300 crore to ₹500 crore could be generated annually once the prohibition is lifted. The then state chief minister O Ibobi had observed in the state assembly that the situation in the state is like that of a non-prohibition state as liquor is available anytime and anywhere in the state.
The state cabinet decided to lift prohibition as the consumption of unregulated liquor created major health issues in the state. At the same time, they are also expecting at least ₹600 crore revenue annually once the existing system is legalised.
Geetchandra Mangang, the general secretary of the Coalition against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA), a civil society organisation in Manipur, demanded full swing enforcement of the liquor prohibition Act. She said the state had ranked fifth in the list of top alcohol consuming states as per the National Family Health Survey-5, 2019-21.
“The government is launching an initiative called War on Drugs to stop drug abuse in the state. On the other hand, it decided to lift the prohibition on liquor. We are confused,” she said.
“Other states may have legalised liquor but Manipur is not the same because ours is a border state affected by other issues including drugs and arms conflict. We demand a white paper from the government so that the public may discuss the merits and demerits of it (partial lift of ban). But the government failed to respond to the demands till date. So, we will consult with our family organisations and other bodies to take further course of action,” she added.
CADA Imphal East district secretary, N Medha Devi, also shared a similar sentiment.She said the state had already been affected by other issues including drugs and arms conflicts. “Prohibition should not be lifted but has to be enforced fully,” she said.