Department wants to curb smuggling of branded liquor to State from Goa.

The Excise Department is likely to raise a marine enforcement unit to stop large-scale smuggling of branded liquor into the State from Goa through sea-routes and inland waterways.

Official sources said the government would consider the proposal at a meeting to be chaired by Excise Minister K. Babu on December 12. They said Indian-made branded liquor was smuggled in sea faring boats in considerable quantities to be retailed in coastal localities in the State. The excise duty for liquor in Goa was considerably lower than that in Kerala. The marked difference in tax structure made the smuggling of liquor a highly lucrative racket.

Last week, the Excise Department seized several litres of branded liquor, packaged in small-sized rectangular cartons, and marked for sale only in Goa, from Puthukurichi near Kazhakuttom.

In October, the Coast Guard seized two sea-faring boats smuggling branded liquor in trade quantities to a larger fishing vessel lying off the coast of the Mormogua harbour. Excise enforcers were in touch with their counterparts in Goa to learn more about the case.

Feni, a favourite

Enforcers said several coastal localities in the district were landing centres for liquor from Goa, including that State's locally distilled “Feni”. Branded liquor sourced from Goa was also smuggled into the State through rail and road from Karnataka.

Enforcers said the smugglers could be illegally diverting the liquor from some of the 32-odd distilleries along the Karnataka-Goa border for sale in Kerala.

Control rooms

The Excise Department would open four control rooms in each district to intensify enforcement during this Christmas-New Year season. Mobile flying squads have been formed to check smuggling of spirit through border areas. Excise enforcers would inspect bars and toddy shops and take liquor samples for chemical examination. They have upped surveillance in coastal localities.

Enforcers said hoardings that indirectly promoted liquor products would be discouraged. It has removed several such surrogate advertisements found in the vicinity of educational institutions and places of worship.

The Excise Department would also prosecute bar hotels which offered inducements, such as one measure of liquor free for every one bought, to consume liquor.