The Coalition Against Drug and Alcohol (CADA) on Thursday rejected the draft regulation policy issued by the state government stating that it demanded a ‘White Paper’ and hence, it will not meet with the government until it produces a white paper but will instead support any form of agitation initiated by the Nupi Samaj.
Addressing the media at its office located at Pureiromba Khongnangkhong, Imphal East, secretary general of CADA, Geetchandra Mangang said that the draft copy of ‘Manipur Liquor Regulation Policy’ will not be considered as white paper that CADA has been demanding from the government.
He said a white paper should include pros and cons on legalisation of liquor and should elaborate the queries made by the public including how the government is going to control the situation after liquor legalisation is implemented.
Before issuing a draft policy, the government should make a declaration that the government has failed to ban liquor in the state under Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act, 1991 as background of the white paper, Geetchandra Mangang demanded. Research data should be included in the white paper highlighting health problems, social problems, cultural norms, crime, economy and others in order to convince the public, he added.
Moreover, the present issue on liquor legalisation has been a major issue in the state whereas the draft copy has only two pages without elaborating any of the points, he said and alleged that the draft copy was issued by the government in order to distract the people from the movement carried against liquor legalisation.
Geetchandra further said the draft copy was not officially handed over to the public through media but it was found circulating through social media but CADA received an official copy signed by additional chief secretary to Chief Minister, Neilenthang Telien on Wednesday evening.
He said CADA is not against the government but it is ready to meet with the government. However, the government should produce a white paper in order to convince the people on liquor legalization, he said, adding that the draft copy was made without the consent of the public and CADA will not comment on the draft copy until a white paper is produced.
The government also issued a draft copy on general public information which included that every retail outlet should invariably display in bold letters that "CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH AND DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE".
The draft also stated that sale of liquor to person below 25 years is strictly prohibited and liable to be prosecuted and punishable under Rule 351 (C) of the Draft Manipur Excise Rules, 2022; production of Government issued identity card is mandatory when demanded; no retail vendor can be located within 100 meters of educational institutions, religious places, hospitals etc., under Rule 289 of the Draft Manipur Excise Rules, 2022.
It further stated that employment of any person below the age of 25 years in liquor vendor is a punishable offence under Rule 351 (C) of the Draft Manipur Excise Rules, 2022; drinking liquor in public places attract a fine of Rs. 5000/- with minimum of 24 hours imprisonment along with relevant punishable offences under Section 501 of IPC r/w Rule 351(B) of the Draft Manipur Excise Rules, 2022.
Drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence and punishable under Section 279 of IPC r/w Section 510 of IPC, the draft warned, adding that driving a motor vehicle in a drunken state if found with Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) exceeding 30 mg of intake per 100 ml of blood detected with the help of a Breath analyser is punishable under Sec. 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.