A spirited debate

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/31/2021 1:51:24 PM IST

 Even thirty two years after the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition(NLTP) Act 1989 was imposed without adequate deliberations to face the enormous challenges at it; the issue still reignites heated debates. Since the NLTP Act 1989, the excise department has changed from being a regulatory to enforcement role. The pros and cons of the prohibition act continues to swing like a pendulum, from those opposing it to those favouring it. Those favouring the Act feel that enforcement has not been effective while those opposing maintain that liquor ban has never been successful across the world. At various discourses both within and outside the department, one point of agreement is that ban on liquor has not been effective. The Excise department has been maintaining that enforcement of the prohibition act was difficult since it has around 330 personnel and with meagre resources, to undertake such a massive exercise. The department has been urging the state government over the decades to accord priority to the its needs with regard to manpower, funds and equipments.In terms of ratio, Nagaland with a population of around 22 lakhs( estimated in 2020) has only around 330 excise personnel. On the other hand, Mizoram which has around 13 lakh population has more than 500 excise personnel to enforce the liquor prohibition re-imposed in 2019. Mizoram had lifted prohibition after 17 years in 2014 but it was re-imposed after the MNF came back to power in 2019. A study published by the “Magnitude of substance use in India 2019 report” released by the ministry of social justice and empowerment, claimed that there were some 3.62 lakh alcohol consumers in Nagaland. This figure is debatable as conservative estimates put the figure to around 1.5 lakh. In India, Assam tops the where men consuming alcohol in the age group of 15-54 recording 59% as the highest in the country. Again in the age group of 15-49, Arunachal Pradesh with 59% has the highest number of men consuming alcohol in the country. According to the excise department, the only source of excise revenue is from sale of liquor to defence personnel through Canteen Stores Depot and to para-military bonded warehouse and fines imposed from the excise violators. Prior to the NLTP Act 1989, the revenue generation of the department in 1987-1988 was Rs 584.37 lakh and Rs 550.90 lakh in 1988-89. After the NLTP Act by 1989-1990, the revenue collection dropped to Rs 110.09 lakh, after which it began to fluctuate between Rs 80 lakh and Rs 340 lakh per year. According to reports, the department earned around Rs.250.98 lakhs in 2019-20. According to the department, the only source of excise revenue is from sale of liquor to Defence personnel through Canteen Stores Depot and to para-military bonded warehouse and fine amount realized from the excise violators. The prohibition act has largely reduced crime rates but it has also led to many falling prey to spurious liquor. A doctor had disclosed that 50% of indoor patients in Dimapur suffered either due to excessive consumption of alcohol mostly, spurious brands. The number of consumers has increased as incomes increase with urbanisation. A law that is not uniform-one state bans liquor and other states legalise it- means prohibition is not enforceable. Only individuals can decide not to drink and it is perhaps the best option which require a continuous effort involving society at large.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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