Guwahati: The newly formed Mizo National Front (MNF) government led by Zoramthanga has taken a step toward prohibition by deciding to ban the sale of liquor during Christmas festivities in Christian-majority Mizoram.
Reimposing prohibition, lifted partially in 2015, was one of the main poll promises of the MNF, which wrested power from the Congress after a decade by winning 26 seats in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly.
In its first Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the government decided to declare dry days from December 21 to January 14 next year and shut all liquor shops operated by the State agencies. The ban on sale of liquor during the period also applies to private vendors.
The Commissioner of Mizoram’s Excise and Narcotics Department, Ngurchungnunga Sailo, subsequently issued an order canceling the retail liquor vending permit of five Mizoram Police battalions, the State’s Home Guards and three State-run corporations.
“We have decided to immediately stop sale of alcohol by government agencies. Prohibiting private players requires a legislation that will take time. So we have decided to have dry days from December 21 to January 14 as an interim measure,” the Chief Minister said in State capital Aizawl on Tuesday.
Total prohibition was first imposed in Mizoram via the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act of 1995 during the Congress rule in 1995. The Congress replaced this act by the Mizoram Liquor Prohibition and Control Act, 2014 to bring in ‘controlled prohibition’.
The first liquor shop was opened in Aizawl on March 16, 2015.
The Mizoram government has not disclosed how much it earns as revenue from sale of alcohol, but officials said prohibition would result in the State government losing an average ₹70 crore.
Former Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla stated that total prohibition could not check the flow of alcohol in Mizoram and only helped bootleggers who brought cheap liquor from adjoining Assam to sell at exorbitant prices in the State. Officials also attributed Mizoram’s drug abuse to ban on alcohol.
Mizoram has for long battled narcotic substances such as heroin and methamphetamine that come in from Myanmar across the porous border.