Excise inspectors to carry pistols

The Excise department has decided to equip all its 500 Inspectors with semi-automatic pistols to enable them to deal with bootleggers, Excise Minister M P Renukachaya said on Tuesday.

Presently, about 450 inspectors have been provided with revolvers which have become outdated, Renukacharya said.

The revolvers will be withdrawn, said the minister who had faced the wrath of bootleggers on a visit to illicit distilling centres in Belgaum.

He said the government was contemplating sanctioning permission to manufacture liquor from beetroot. The department had asked a technical committee to examine a proposal from distillery owners in this regard, he told reporters here.

However, the government has rejected the distillery owners’ plea to allow manufacture of liquor using food grains like rice and jowar as it would affect food availability, the minister said.

Beetroot contains higher sugar content and is an alternative for molasses. In addition, beetroot crop can be raised twice a year and it consumes less water compared to sugar cane.

If the government gives permission, it will help farmers to take up cultivation of beetroot as a commercial venture, he added.

He said beetroot that can be used to make liquor was not the usual vegetable used by people, but a different variety. The technical committee has also been asked to recommend ways to grow that variety of beetroot in the State, he said.

However, he said his department was not aware if the 65 distilleries in the state had the necessary technology to manufacture liquor using beetroot.

Revenue

Renukacharya said the department is hopeful of collecting 20 per cent more than the revenue target of Rs 9,300 crore set for the department in the budget 2011-12. The revenue in April alone was Rs 736 crore and the department is hopeful that collection would cross Rs 10,000 crore.

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