Liquor shops in Mizoram shut for X'mas

Liquor shops in Mizoram shut for X'mas

Zoramthanga in Aizwal on Tuesday. DH PHOTO/Henry H Khojol

Guwahati, DHNS: With Christmas around the corner, the new Mizoram government, in a step towards re-imposing total prohibition on liquor, on Tuesday ordered the closure of liquor shops run by government agencies and declared that the state will remain dry for two weeks starting this Friday.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga said in Aizawl that the new cabinet decided to close all seven liquor shops run by public sector undertakings and other government agencies with immediate effect, as part of the MNF government's pre-poll promise to reimpose total prohibition on liquor.

The prohibition in the state, which has a 97% Christian population, will last till January 14.

The chief minister said a law for closure of all liquor shops run by private persons would also be framed soon.

In 2014, the Congress government led by chief minister Lal Thanhawla had revoked the 18-year-old Mizoram Liquor (Total Prohibition) Act, 1995 and replaced it with the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014 despite objections by powerful NGOs and churches.

Under the 2014 act, an adult consumer is provided a liquor permit to buy six bottles of 750 ml Indian Made Foreign Liquor and 10 bottles each of beer and wine a month for his/her personal consumption. There are nearly 50 authorised liquor vendors in Mizoram at present.

The Congress said it decided to replace the total prohibition as spurious liquor from neighboruing states like Assam had flooded the state markets, resulting in several deaths and that even the state was not earning revenue from the “illegal” business.

Zoramthanga had made this an important issue in his poll campaigns claiming that 6,000 people including 500 police personnel died due to consumption of 'third class' liquor since 2014. There are 50 liquor shops in the state at present.

Soon after MNF won 26 of the 40 seats in the Assembly elections, Zoramthanga had announced that re-imposing total prohibition would be one of his government's top three priorities. Zoramthanga took oath as new Mizoram chief minister on Saturday.