The series of raids by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on offices of Excise and liquor syndicates has reportedly resulted in a sharp 25 per cent decline in revenue from liquor sales in February.

It is more than two-and-a-half times the drop in January when the sales fell by 10 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.

Excise officials, who are known to exert pressure on liquor traders to lift stocks from the A.P. Beverages Corporation's depots to boost revenue, are reluctant to do so in view of the turbulence in the trade.

Normally, they are given monthly targets to ensure that the sales go up higher and higher.

They apparently do not want to risk going after the traders when they are already under the ACB's scanner and when15 officers are in jail.

Sale of liquor is a major source of income to the government though the department is small in terms of head count. The recent raids, however, have done nothing to boost the morale of the staff at the close of the financial year when they should have been focusing on higher revenue.

If the staff go strictly by rules and other legal methods, revenue targets would be difficult to achieve, Excise officials say.

So far, the ACB has booked 25 cases against officials and liquor syndicates since the operations began in December-end. The matter came to a high with the arrest in Khammam of a syndicate leader, Nunna Venkataramana, who stated that he had paid a bribe of Rs.10 lakh to Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkataramana. The ACB said he owned 29 shops in benami names and wielded influence over 80 shops in Khammam and Warangal districts.

Hard to achieve targets through legal methods, say Excise officials