Staff Reporter

Renewal of licence is due from April

Phulbani Action Group, a cluster of 38 social organisations, has been opposing renewal

BERHAMPUR: Due to stiff opposition from social organisations and women groups the renewal of licence of 22 new country liquor trading and manufacturing units in Kandhamal district has got hindered.

As per the norms these licences were to be renewed by April. But continuing opposition to these newly opened country liquor units has deterred the Kandhamal district administration from renewing their licence. The Phulbani Action Group (PAG), a cluster of 38 social organisations of Kandhamal district with the help of whom regional antiliquor women's groups have taken up this tirade against promotion of liquor by the government and administration, termed it their achievement.

It may be noted that the PAG has been holding dharna in front of the office of the Kandhamal Collector at Phulbani since April 13 to oppose opening of new liquor outlets in this area. The PAG has called a general body meeting on Thursday to discuss their future course of action. Till now the women activists have taken the lead in the anti-liquor agitation in all remote areas of Kandhamal district.

An angry mob of women had destroyed some newly opened liquor shops in Daringbadi area in March which made the administration and liquor lobby be careful about the opposition.

Without renewal of licences and stiff opposition of locals all the 22 new liquor outlets have stopped vending liquor. “We now only need official declaration regarding withdrawal of these new liquor licences,” convener of the PAG Sasank Sahu said. According to him this anti-liquor agitation has become a major binding factor in Kandhamal district as people irrespective of their religion, community and creed have come out to support it.

Earlier trading and mass manufacturing of country liquor was banned in Kandhamal district. Only the tribal families were allowed to manufacture their own traditional liquor with the permission to store five litres of liquor for their ritualistic needs. In July 2008, the State government had decided to issue new licences for opening country liquor units in Kandhamal. But the communal riots that hit the district in August 2008 delayed the implementation. The State government again started the process of tender to open country liquor units in the district from August 2009 despite ground level opposition. Twenty two units were auctioned. But each unit had to renew its licence every year in April.