Experts rubbish Rane's proposal to ban liquor
minister Narayan Rane's demand that there be a complete ban of sale and purchase of liquor in the six suicide-prone districts of Vidarbha-Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldhana and Washim-has stirred a hornet's nest. There was uproar in the state assembly on Friday with the Shiv Sena-BJP legislators squatting in the well of the House and demanding that Rane apologise to the farmers of Vidarbha.
While farmers activists and senior politicians from Vidarbha have expressed their resentment over Rane's proposal, the revenue minister seems to have found an unlikely ally in chief minister Ashok Chavan. Observing that there is substance Rane's contention, Chavan on Friday said that he would discuss the proposal with members of the Opposition.
Condemning Rane's proposal, farmers' leader Kishore Tiwari said, "Farmers didn't commit suicide after consuming liquor. The main reason why they took the drastic step was the complete failure of their crops. They were unable to repay their loans,'' Tiwari said.
An analysis done by the local administration lists nine primary reasons for farmers' suicides. "Our survey has revealed that 37.18% farmers committed suicide due to financial crisis, 3.10% because of poor crops, 6.71% due to ill health and less than 3.75% owing to liquor consumption,'' a senior official said.
A senior excise official said it would not be possible to enforce a complete ban on sale and purchase of liquor as suggested by Rane. "We are not going into merits or demerits of Rane's suggestion, but it is not possible to implement the same,'' a senior excise official said.
The official pointed out that when Andhra Pradesh and Haryana had imposed a similar ban, there was a failure on the part of the administration to implement the order in letter and spirit. "As a result, the two state governments had no option, but to withdraw the order," he added. "If we want to implement the ban, we would have to seal the borders of these districts, which is not possible,'' he said.
The excise official recalled that despite a complete ban in Wardha and Gadchiroli districts, there were reports that liquor is available in these two districts. "We have been making efforts to enforce the ban, but with no success. If at all a ban has to be imposed, it should be across the country,'' he said.
If the ban is implemented, there wont be any adverse effect on revenue generation as the six districts don't contribute much, the official added. "From the Vidarbha region, we get well over Rs 800 crore per year. Of this, maximum amount comes from Nagpur city and district. If the ban comes into force, we don't see an adverse impact on state's financial situation,'' he added.