Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday asked labour welfare officers to launch an intensive awareness drive against the menace of consuming sulai, a locally made liquor, in the tea garden areas of the state.
Sonowal’s directive came in the wake of the death of over 150 people in Upper Assam’s Jorhat and Golaghat districts after consuming sulai.
Attending a programme to launch the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana here, Sonowal said in recognition of the services rendered by labour welfare officers in generating awareness, he would give awards to the best labour welfare officer. “I will personally honour the best labour welfare officer,” the chief minister said.
The meeting was attended by labour and tea tribes welfare minister Pallab Lochan Das, additional chief secretary of labour department Jishnu Barua and labour commissioner Narayan Konwar, among others.
On Monday, Sonowal had ordered a ban on molasses (laligur) which is used to make sulai. During a high-level meeting here, he had asked chief secretary Alok Kumar to direct all deputy commissioners to ensure ban on molasses in all the districts.
The order will enable officials to seize molasses from shops. Earlier, there was no such provision. A letter sent from the excise department to the Golaghat deputy commissioner in October last year had said: “There is no provision of the seizure of molasses in wholesale and retail sale shop in Assam Excise Act 2000 and Assam Excise Rule 2016”.
The labour department on Tuesday also held a meeting with its labour welfare officers to take feedback from them to prepare the roadmap to stop consumption of sulai in tea gardens.
Excise department officials said the hooch tragedy took place despite repeated instructions to district superintendents of excise to conduct intensive raids on sale and distillation of illicit liquor.
Regarding the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana, Sonowal said the state’s 1.80 crore workers in the unorganised sector would get old-age protection and social security with a minimal monthly contribution once they opt to come under the ambit of the scheme.