Guwahati: Over 30 years later, the Manipur government has decided to withdraw its ‘Dry’ state tag and to partially lift the prohibitions of sale of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL). The state cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod for the partial lift on IMFLA sale in the state to the much joy of party revelers.
However, Manipur was not always a ‘dry state’. A massive public movement in the early 90s had forced the state government to enact prohibition through the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991, which was later amended in 2002.
After the Act was enforced, the sale, brewing, and consumption of liquor were banned for all residents, barring people from the schedule caste and scheduled tribe (SC and ST) communities who traditionally brew it.
However, the ban though has prohibited the sale of IMFL in the state, liquor consumption could not be effectively controlled and alcohol remained widely available in gray market.
Why Manipur government wants to lift the ban:
Manipur cabinet decision came considering the alarming health issues arising out of the consumption of unregulated liquor, said Manipur’s tribal affairs and hills minister Letpao Haokip.
The cabinet meeting was held at the chief minister’s secretariat in Imphal in chief minister N Biren Singh’s presence.
The Manipur cabinet believed that the unabated sale of spurious liquor in the state has been causing serious health issues to its residents. Haokip informed, “The decision was taken to prevent serious health issues such as liver and kidney diseases after the consumption of unregulated products.”
However, the ban was lifted only at district headquarters, tourist areas and hotels with not less than 20 (bed) rooms.
The Manipur government expecting to generate a revenue of Rs 600 crore annually from the lift.
At the same time, local liquor manufactured at Sekmai in Imphal west district and Andro in Imphal east district will be checked and regulated in consultation with experts from Ireland and Scotland, he added.
Recently, a three-member team of the state cabinet sub-committee recently visited Goa to study the introduction of feni in the coastal state. The state government there has been also mulling to export traditionally brewed liquor from the villages of Sekmai and Andro which were very popular amongst consumers.