Sunday, October 2, 2022

Govt to review suggestions on Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act


Following today’s consultative meeting on Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act, 1989, in the conference hall, Secretariat Complex, the state government has assured to look into the suggestions given by civil society organisations and church organisations
Addressing media persons after the meeting, advisor excise, Zhaleo Rio, disclosed that the meeting did not discuss whether to partially or completely lift the NLTP Act, adding that meeting with the stakeholders was cordial where both the parties shared their mind.
Advisor said the general consensus during the meeting on the issue was either (1) if there was any scope to revisit the Act, it should be reviewed with the prevailing situation of the present time and implement it effectively. Or (2) taking into consideration the ill effects of adulterated and spurious drinks and the problems faced at the hands of bootleggers, syndicate suppliers of alcohol, the many anti-social elements, if at all the government decides to take any decision on the act, it should not be partial lifting but lifting it completely.
Zhaleo, who attended the meet as a special invitee by virtue of being advisor excise, said that it was also his moral responsibility and duty to share his mind on behalf of the government and also talk on the social issues and evils that were confronting the Naga society.
He informed that many of the stakeholders present at the meeting submitted their suggestions in written. Advisor said the committee on the Act would study all, submit their findings and make recommendations to the government, adding that the process would continue.
Advisor said the committee would give a report on its findings and recommendations as early as possible.
Answering to a query on the committee formed in 2018 to review the Act, Zhaleo said the committee headed by the additional chief secretary was to examine all the health issues relating to Act and the inflow of spurious alcohol into the State.
Further, the committee was to make a study on the consumption of liquor in all the towns in the State and to study the income generation of the State in comparison with the neighbouring Northeastern States.
After two sittings, he said the committee along with Health and Family Welfare (H&FW) department and Food Safety Authority examined the quality of alcohol found in the State.
A report on the findings of the study, which was presented at the consultative meeting, mentioned that out of the 30 odd alcohol samples studied, about 20 were found to have adulterated, Zhaleo said.
The revenue aspect and other management of the department was presented by the excise department during the meeting, he added.
Advisor said that some organizations and people were very allergic when there was any discussion on revenue generation. However, he said that Nagaland being a revenue resource State everyone should know that the State needed to generate revenue.
In addition, he said the State should also provide more employment avenue. He said earlier excise department used to be revenue collection department, but with the implementation of the Act, the department became a regulatory body.
Zhaleo said he was aware of the church being concerned about the health including the spiritual wellbeing of the people.
He said that the government was also a welfare government and that they were also equally concerned about the people in regard to the overall development, infrastructural development, livelihood, economy and employment since the State also has a very high number of unemployment.
Therefore, he said that collection of revenue was also equally important for the government since all these were for the welfare of the people.
Unlike the church, he said the government cannot function just for one specific purpose, but look into all the dimensions for the people.
He said the church and other civil organizations should also understand the situation of the government since the latter was also for the welfare of the people.
Answering to a query on the loss of revenue, Zhaleo said before NLTP Act came into force in 1990, after the enactment in 1989, the State was earning over Rs.5 crores annually.
However, after the imposition of the Act, through the collection of permit fees and duty on levies and licence fees, the Excise department was collecting hardly Rs 2-3 lakhs annually.
Even smaller States like Mizoram, Meghalaya were collecting almost Rs 200 crore annually while bigger States like Assam are collecting over Rs 2000 correspondent annually from Excise duty, Zhaleo disclosed.
Asked whether the issue would be discussed in the coming Budget session, Zhaleo said that the Business Advisory would decide whether the issue would be discussed.
On why the Act could not be effectively implemented in the State, Zhaleo said there was a lot of blame on the Excise department. However, he said the department was doing enough to enforce the Act as was evident from the news reports where many bootleggers were arrested, booked while thousands of cases of alcohol were destroyed.
However, he admitted that although the department was working, it was unable to perform a satisfactory job.
Asked whether there would be anymore consultations, Zhaleo said the government cannot rule out that there would not be any more consultations.
He said CSOs had expressed willingness to participate if there was any need for further detailed discussions.
State chief secretary and committee chairman, J Alam, stated that the Committee on NLPT Act has been meeting different stakeholders and heard their views and opinions. He thanked the NGOs for sharing their opinions and hoped to reach a common ground for the benefit of the people of the State. The meeting was also attended by commissioner & secretary excise Orenpomo Kikon.
CSOs present at the consultative meeting on NLTP Act 1989, were: Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC), Nagaland Christian Revival Churches Council (NCRCC), Catholic Association of Nagaland (CAN), Naga Hoho, Angami Public Organization (APO), Chakhesang Public Organization (CPO), Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC), Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO), Zeliang Baudi (ZB), Naga Mothers Association (NMA), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Angami Students’ Union (ASU), Dimapur Naga Students’ Union (DNSU), Eastern Naga Students’ Federation (ENSF), Central Naga Students’ Association (CNSA), Eastern Naga Women’s Organization (ENWO).