The Excise and Prohibition department has achieved 44.5 per cent of its target revenue for the current fiscal by the end of July, officials from the department said on Wednesday, adding that the State was likely to achieve its set target of generating revenue of Rs 1,800 crore through liquor trade in this financial year.
Addressing media persons at Suchna Bhawan here on Wednesday, Excise and Prohibition department Secretary Rahul Sharma said that Jharkhand earned revenue of Rs 801 crore through liquor trade by the end of July this year. “We have set a target of generating Rs 1800 crore, which seems achievable at this point,” he said.
In a bid to put a check on illegal trade of liquor in Jharkhand, the department has also come up with an innovative track and trace technology. This technology will allow end to end monitoring of liquor right from manufacturing to final retail, Sharma said. “The bottles and cartons will be scanned at the manufacturing unit, and then they will be scanned and monitored during transport.
The bottles will again be scanned once they reach the retail outlet. The retailers will be given machines to scan the bottles before they are sold. This process will ensure end to end monitoring of each bottle of liquor in Jharkhand,” Sharma said.
The State has tightened the noose around liquor traders lately. In 2019, the Excise Department and police sent at least 192 persons to jail on charges of manufacturing, transporting or selling liquor illegally, said Sharma. “We formed teams to monitor sale of liquor in different parts of Jharkhand. Each team kept an eye on illegal trade of liquor in four to five districts. A total of 3984 persons were prosecuted during the raids,” he added.
In a bid to improve the quality of country liquor and check illegal sale, the government has also prohibited the use of plastic pouches for packaging country liquor and made bottling mandatory.
For now, there are no bottling plants for country liquor in Jharkhand, but four companies from West Bengal are supplying bottled country liquor to Jharkhand State Beverage Corporation Limited (JSBCL).
The State also plans to streamline the sale of Mahua, a local drink, and make it safer for consumption. “We have started bottling Mahua in the interiors. It is affordable too. A 600 ml bottle of Mahua is sold for only Rs 40. This initiative was needed as in many places Mahua is boiled and distilled in an extremely unhygienic condition,” said Excise Commissioner Bhor Singh Yadav.
However, the Excise Department has not imposed any regulation on the manufacture, sale and consumption of Hadia, a tribal drink, which is prepared in almost every tribal household here by fermenting rice. It is a form of rice beer and is said to have a strong intoxicating effect.
Yadav said that malls and departmental stores too can retail expensive liquor, wine and beer in Ranchi under the current excise policy.
In order to be eligible for this, the mall has to cover an area of at least 50,000 square feet and the departmental store should cover a surface area of at least 1500 square feet, he added.
Besides, the Government has digitised the entire process of lottery for private liquor stores.
The concerned department will now hold e-lotteries to ensure a fair process of selecting businessmen who should get to run a liquor store in Jharkhand. Currently, there are 1,634 sanctioned liquor shops in Jharkhand and 1595 of them are operational.