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No consensus at dry law meet, views on partial or total lifting
Correspondent KOHIMA, JUL 2 (NPN):
Published on 3 Jul. 2010 12:09 AM IST
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Twenty years after the Prohibition Act (Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989) was enforced, it appears to be taking a step further towards either being lifted partially or totally after the consultative meeting convened by the Minister in-charge of excise Mr.M.C.Konyak with civil societies.
Friday’s consultative meeting of government ministers with the leaders of the civil societies held at the Secretariat Conference Hall today received a wide response but failed to achieve any clear consensus on whether to lift it partially or totally.
One of the invitees, the influential Naga Mothers Association(NMA)stayed away from today’s meeting since the government had snubbed the powerful church organization, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC). The NBCC has vowed that it will resist tooth and nail, any attempts to tinker with the Act on the ground that alcohol was one of the main causes of social and moral problems in society.
Those who attended the meeting as civil societies included representatives of five organizations such as - Naga Hoho, Eastern Naga Peoples’ Organization (ENPO), Eastern Naga Women Organization (ENWO), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Eastern Naga Students’ Federation (ENSF). Government ministers included Forest and Excise Minister M.C.Konyak and Home Minister Imkong L.Imchen.
Details of the meeting were not available since the press was not invited. However, it was learnt that the government minister in-charge had stated that the meeting was necessitated since the issue of prohibition attracted various shades of views and opinions from different section of the society in Nagaland. All the representatives of the different organization present at the meeting had aired their views which varied with some favouring partial lifting while others urged it be totally llifted.
Representatives of the civil societies had also reportedly been asked to submit written statements of their respective view points in the form of representations for consideration by the state government .
It may be recalled that the state government enacted the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989 after intense pressure and agitation by the Naga Mothers’ Association and the Church organizations. The Act underwent the first amendment in 1994.
Despite outcry against liquor-related offences and other crimes, the Act could not be implemented successfully as even today, rampant sale under the counters and in many restaurants and hotels especially in Dimapur and Kohima, is an open admission of its total failure.
Lack of manpower with vehicles and weapons to enforce smuggling by armed gangs are often cited as inherent problems by the Excise department.
Smuggling of liquor and distribution of spurious liquor from illicit distilleries has become a multi-crore black business. Nagaland has been losing over nearly a hundred crore rupees annually in excise revenues.

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