An Assam Assembly Committee found that the state Excise Department has not taken “sufficient steps" to prevent illegal liquor business along border areas and suggested to form an armed battalion of its own to control “accelerating" unlawful activities. The Departmentally Related Standing Committee on Development (A) Departments of Assam Legislative Assembly in its report for Excise Department for 2021-22 also said that many “set rules are being flouted" and asked the authorities to enforce them strictly.
“The Committee observed that some illegal liquor centres have grown up throughout the border areas of the state which may cause a great loss to the excise duty," it added. It recommended that the Excise Department should take necessary measures to issue retail “Off" licences in the border areas.
“Off" licence means that liquor can be sold from a site but has to be consumed off the site. “On" licence refers to an establishment that sells alcohol, which can be consumed on the site itself. “The Committee observes that sufficient steps have not been taken by the concerned department in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh in case of influx of liquor.
“Therefore, the Committee strongly recommends that the Excise Department should take necessary steps to check influx of liquor from Arunachal Pradesh by putting in place ‘Check Points’ and increase vigilance and enforcement activities in the districts bordering Arunachal," the report said. Talking about another border district, Karimganj in Barak valley, the Assembly panel noted that the department has been experiencing various difficulties in the Karimganj district regarding retail licence and asked the officials to verify if permissions were granted in violation of Assam Excise Rules.
“The Committee also observes that some licensees have leased their Retail ‘Off’ licences to others," the report said, asking the authorities to take all necessary steps so as to check if any such unlawful activities have taken place. “…if any such cases are found, then such licences shall be cancelled and the same may be allotted to the unemployed youths of the state," it added.
Further, the Committee said other norms like prescribed distances between wine shops are not followed and recommended “strict adherence" to the rules of the Excise Department. It also suggested taking strict action to curb illicit liquor completely from the state. It is predominantly available in villages and tea garden areas.
“The Committee observes that sufficient steps have not been taken by the Excise Department due to lack of armed battalion for Excise Department, Assam. “To meet up the problems faced by the concerned Excise Department, the Committee has recommended to pursue the formation of an Excise Armed Battalion in line with Forest Department to control the illegal activities accelerating in the state day by day," the report highlighted.
The Committee noted that revenue collection by the department increased by 23.89 per cent to Rs 2,031.33 crore in 2020-21 from Rs 1,639.61 crore in the previous fiscal.