GUWAHATI: Liquor from Arunachal Pradesh finding its way to Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur through Assam has been a challenge for the State Excise Department in rooting out the decades-long liquor syndicate. The lack of agility from Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland Excise departments to root out the menace has also complicated the problem for Assam.
Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur are dry States where liquor is sold at higher prices. However, liquor continues to go to these three States from Arunachal Pradesh via Assam, often in the name of supply for defence canteens. However, in most of the cases, such liquor consignments are dropped in Assam, thereby robbing the State Excise department of revenue. In the name of supply for defence canteens, a big scandal of Arunachal Pradesh liquor has been taking place in Assam from the days of the previous regimes, and the present government at Dispur has not been able to root it out totally. This, according to sources, has not been possible as a few officials in the State Excise Department have been in league with the liquor racket for decades. This apart, such officials have the backing of a powerful lobby. So much so that the lobby is working overtime to overthrow the present Excise Minister and his honest officers who are bent on rooting out the syndicate. An instance should suffice that even an employee recommended by the Excise Minister for holding the post of Inspector Excise (Revenue), Guwahati with its jurisdiction from Ganeshguri to Khanapara has not been able to join for duty because of the lobby. Another employee has been working there temporarily.
There are allegations that Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur-bound liquor-laden trucks from warehouses in Arunachal Pradesh mostly have papers shown as supplies for defence canteens in the three States. However, in most of the cases, such consignments are dropped in Assam. Such a practice robs the State Excise department of revenue.
Talking to The Sentinel, a top-level Excise official said, “We’ve requested our counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh to give details of liquor-laden trucks from their State, their destinations, nature of consignments and the like. However, the response from the other end is very poor. We’ve also made similar requests to the Nagaland Excise Department to specifically mention as to what quantity of liquor actually enters the State for supply to defence canteens there. Response from the other end isn’t satisfactory. Without clear-cut response from them, it’s very difficult for us to arrest the menace of illegal supply of liquor. Significantly, most of the consignments bound for their States are dropped in Assam. Liquor from Arunachal Pradesh also goes to Mizoram, often in the name of supply for defence canteen.”
The sale of liquor from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam was almost open and rampant in Assam back in the days in the previous regimes. That was why the annual revenue of the State Excise department was somewhere from Rs 900-crore Rs 1,000 crore. However, because of stringent measures taken up after the change of guards, the Excise revenue was Rs 2,400 crore last year. The revenue is supposed to go up if the Excise departments of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland cooperate with their Assam counterparts to check illegal supply of liquor.
Liquor from Arunachal Pradesh enters Nagaland via Assam through Golaghat and Karbi Anglong districts. Khatkhati, Lahorijan, Chungajan etc are major routes to Nagaland.