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Dry law to stay: Zeliang

Kohima, July 23: The Nagaland government has said it is not contemplating to lift prohibition.

Sources said the Nagaland Prohibition Act which was passed in 1989 has totally failed as the state has become the wettest in the country with foreign liquor pouring in from across international borders.

Chief minister T.R. Zeliang said there is no plan to lift the act, but added that his government would continue to hold consultations with Naga organisations on the possibility of lifting the act.

“We are not contemplating to lift prohibition,” Zeliang said, adding that consultations with Naga organisations would continue so that new policies could be framed to mobilise revenue.

Of late, liquor bottled in Myanmar and China has started to pour into the state from the porous international border between India and Myanmar. Spurious liquors are manufactured mostly at Lahorijan and Khatkati in Assam bordering Nagaland and supplied to Nagaland. There are also dozens of wine shops and roadside bars at Lahorijan and Khatkati.

Many hotels and shops openly sell Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Dimapur and Kohima, but the government has failed to enforce prohibition. Many of the bootleggers are militants who have nexus with liquor barons in Assam. Police and excise personnel are hesitant to act for fear of backlash.

In Kohima, IMLF bottles are easily available even in paan shops and public call offices .

“Even if we lift prohibition, we are going to get aro-und Rs 50-60 crore,” Zeliang said. He clearly indicated that his government cannot afford to antagonise the Church which has strongly opposed liquor despite severe criticisms from various quarters, including Naga civil societies.

The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), the largest Church organisation in the state, continues to stick to its policy though the state has become the wettest in the country and thousands of lives are lost because of consumption of spurious liquor.

There have been consultations with the NBCC, but the Baptist Church has been demanding total enforcement of the act. Security forces are assisting the state to check the flow of IMLF in the state.