The Excise Department occupies the second position in the list of top revenue generating departments in the State. But in Kozhikode district, it is yet to have a building of its own and is facing eviction notices from the owners of some of their range office buildings.
The district has nine range offices, three circle offices and one office building each for squad, divisional and zonal sections. Seven of these are located in the civil stations in Kozhikode, Vadakara and Thamarassery.
The rest are located in rented buildings many of which have not seen any maintenance work.
The range office in Chelannur is in a precarious position with the owner of the building filing an eviction petition recently.
The department has now filed a counter affidavit.
The Thamarassery range office is currently located in the mini civil station. But after the recent inclusion of one more taluk to Thamarassery, the excise department has been asked to move out of the station so as to house the offices of the new taluk.
At least four of the range offices (in Balussery, Nadapuram, Koyilandy and Kunnamangalam) are located in dilapidated buildings. In Kunnamangalam, there was a plan to build a new office at a ground used for driving tests. However, there is opposition to the plan from the local people. When contacted by The Hindu, a senior excise official said that the department has been raising the issue of lack of own buildings for the past many years. But no concrete action has happened in this regard.
“Many of the offices in the other districts have moved to offices of their own. But the responses to our demands fizzle out after the first few steps. Even the civil station is at best a temporary location. There is a severe problem of space for the department,” said the official.
The major problem of space is with regard to the vehicles seized by the department.
None of the offices except the one at Kakkur has enough space to accommodate extra vehicles. Even the vehicles that are seized by the police in abkari cases are handed over to the Excise department. The safe custody of other seized articles in buildings having leakage is another sticky issue.
“We are supposed to have strong rooms in every office for the safe custody of the seized materials. None of the offices have that,” the official said.
The owners of the rented buildings refuse to carry out any maintenance work as they want the department to move out.
“We cannot carry out maintenance work on our own as the government will foot the bill only for permanent buildings,” the official said.