PUNE: Almost three and half years later, the demand to lift the liquor ban in Chandrapur district has started taking firm roots. The issue has found its way on the assembly election manifesto with candidates contesting making it the sole issue.
Although, the BJP put a carpet ban on liquor as per the 2014 poll promise, Vanita Raut, a candidate from Akhil Bharatiya Manwata Party calls it the core problem which has impeded the mental health of the society. Raut is contesting the assembly election from Chimur constituency of Chandrapur district.
While talking to Sakal Times from Chimur, she said, “Liquor ban has given rise to illegal trading of liquor in the district. Instead of it being a beneficial move, it has opened avenues for many from within and outside the State to open illegal shops in bylanes of this village.”
Raut further said, “Similarly, people have been spending double the amount to buy it. This has resulted in a rise in discontent in families.”
It was the women of Chandrapur who had protested and for many years demanded a ban on liquor in their district.
Almost 1,500 out of the 1,800 villages in the district had also passed a resolution against liquor sales. Taking cognisance, the State government in 2013 appointed a committee to look into the demand. The committee was headed by Sanjay Devtale, then guardian minister and Congress leader, along with social activist Abhay Bang and others. They had recommended a ban to be implemented in three phases.
Raut said that the problem of sale, consumption and transport of liquor can be solved by legalising it. “If you legalise it, provide licences to the person who wants to consume it and the seller, then most of the problems can be solved,’’ she said. “Currently, what happens is that a person has to pay double the amount for buying a small bottle of liquor,” she said adding that if the 50 ml bottle was priced at Rs 50, illegally, it was sold for Rs 200.
“Likewise, if the person consumes food with it, then he is forced to buy food for a higher price as that person has to sell the food product nearer to the liquor shop,” Raut explained.
“Due to an increase in the budget for spending on the liquor, the family budget collapses,” she added.
Interestingly, according to Raut, there were no other major problems regarding infrastructural growth, education, healthcare or farming in her constituency. Thus, she has focused all her energy into lifting the liquor ban.
Meanwhile, Chandrapur being a semi-rural constituency, a mixed crowd was seen. A large number of women had participated in the anti-liquor movement from here. Thus, it would be interesting to know whether the lifting of the ban would get reflected in the electoral outcome or not.