These groups claim that the move would make matters worse for the northeastern state that is already battling the menace of illicit drugs and alcoholism. The BJP-led state government, on the other hand, expects the policy will help generate Rs 600 crore as annual revenue besides addressing the issue of health hazards caused by consumption of illicit or spurious liquor.
The issue is not as simple as it sounds though. Officially, Manipur has been a dry state for decades, but one would easily find liquor smuggled from other states or the Myanmar side.
The state police and the Assam Rifles seize contraband liquor on a regular basis, which points to a high demand of alcohol in the state. According to the 2019-20 report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Manipur ranked fifth on the list of top alcohol-consuming states. One reason for that is, of course, the culture of local brew prevalent in tribal societies, which is allowed under the existing law.
A massive public movement had led the state government to enact prohibition through the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act 1991, which was later amended in 2002.
Now, the N Biren Singh government has decided to partially lift prohibition from all the district headquarters, tourist destinations, and camps of security forces. As part of the move, it will withdraw the ban on brewing, consumption and sale of liquor, Tribal Affairs and Hills Development Minister Letpao Haokip was quoted by PTI as saying. However,a permit would be required for those transporting liquor from one place to another.
A plan is also afoot on exporting traditionally brewed liquor from tribal villages. The state government had recently sent a cabinet sub-committee to Goa to study scientific liquor brewing for export.
And it looks like the government is in no mood to cancel the new liquor policy despite protests from CADA and women’s groups. Health minister Dr Sapam Ranjan Singh has stressed that the production and sale of liquor would be examined strictly once the policy is rolled out.
Last month, Mizoram, another dry state in the region, also relaxed liquor prohibition norms, allowing manufacture and sale of local grape wine. The state government on September 7 notified rules for implementing the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Act, 2019, according to which, all other forms of alcohol, barring the locally produced grape wines and those permitted in canteen tenancy license and for use in scientific purposes or medical practitioner’s prescription, remains prohibited, local media reported.
Army keeping its guard up in eastern sector
India is keeping a tight vigil on the entire stretch of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border with China, although the armies of the two nuclear-armed neighbours disengaged at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh.
As part of the move, India has enhanced the deployment of troops and military hardware in the Arunachal sector. Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory, calling it Southern Tibet. The easternmost Indian state had witnessed a major Chinese aggression in 1962, resulting in a war between the two countries.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday visited the forward areas at Anini in Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh, at a time when China is upgrading its infrastructure along the border. He was accompanied by Army chief General Manoj Pande and GOC-in-C, Eastern Command Lt Gen R P Kalita and other senior officers of the Indian Army.
To counter the Chinese build-up, India has decided to equip all forward posts with a large helipad, each for swift mobilisation of troops and military equipment using multi-role Chinook helicopters.
Besides, all the forward posts and Army units are being linked with an optical fibre network and all of them will have separate satellite terminals for bolstering overall surveillance of Chinese activities across the LAC. The Army has already deployed a large number of indigenously-built drone, Switch.
A significant number of easily transportable M-777 ultra-light howitzers were also deployed in mountainous regions along the border, according to reports. The M-777 can be transported quickly in Chinook helicopters.