Ranchi, Sept. 2: Revenue earnings from sale of liquor in rural areas are in a shambles as excise officials are unable to conduct raids in villages because of poor infrastructure.
For the current fiscal, the excise revenue earning target is Rs 700 crore. The target for excise collection on country liquor is around Rs 150 crore, of which till August end, barely Rs 30 crore has been collected. The overall revenue collection till August was Rs 190 crore.
“Over 60 per cent of total sanctioned posts in the excise department are lying vacant. The department barely has 15 vehicles in running condition. We seldom conduct raids in rural areas and even if some daredevil ventures into villages, he faces the ire of both locals and political heavyweights,” said a senior official of the department.
Recently, an excise inspector posted in Garhwa was tipped off about illegal liquor trade in Kharaundi block. He tried to raid the house with the help of an informer, but was soon surrounded by agitated villagers. He somehow managed to escape with the help of the local police.
The matter did not end there. Former minister Ram Chandra Kesri apparently pressured the excise minister to transfer the inspector and initiate an inquiry against him.
“The inspector manhandled women members of the house and recovered nothing. Further, why was a local goon was leading the raids? The local police too played a partisan role,” was Kesri’s argument.
However, excise department officials were of the opinion that after this episode, no one would take the risk of conducting raids in villages. “If we can’t do anything, how will we stop distributors of India-made foreign liquor from charging more than the printed maximum retail price and also issue cash memos on demand?” an official rued.
Speaking to The Telegraph, excise minister Gopal Krishna Patar admitted receiving numerous complaints about retailers charging more. While, none of the complaints were in writing, those who made them expected immediate action nevertheless.
“This is how things are. Fresh directions have been given to officials to ensure that liquor is made available to consumers at maximum retail prices and cash memos provided on demand. In the present circumstances, what else can a poor minister like me do?” he asked.
The minister appeared to be indirectly referring to senior officials blatantly ignoring his directions on making the beverage corporation functional at the earliest and his memos too not being taken seriously.
“I have already approved sanction of new posts, filling up of vacant posts and purchase of vehicles,” he added.