Staff Reporter

Penalty for its failure to supply required quantity of licensed cheap liquor

BERHAMPUR: The Aska Cooperative Sugar Mill has decided to approach the Orissa High Court against the imposition of a fine of Rs 10 lakhs on it by the State Excise Commissioner.

The Excise Commissioner had imposed the fine on this oldest sugar mill in Orissa for its alleged negligence to supply required amount of liquor produced by it to its areas of supply.

This sugar mill is licensed to manufacture and supply cheap liquor to nine coastal districts of Orissa. It manufactures its liquor from its own molasses or collects it from other sugar mills in Dhenkanal and Koraput.

After the recent hooch tragedy in Khurda district it was alleged that due to non-availability of proper amount of licensed cheap liquor in market, the sale of spurious liquor increased.

The Aska sugar mill was also blamed for non-supply of proper amount of liquor to the coastal areas. The Excise Commissioner imposed the fine as pecuniary punishment on the sugar mill.

Managing Director of the Aska sugar mill Prakash Chandra Dash said the loss-making sugar mill which was trying to revive itself was not in a position to pay this heavy fine. Moreover, he felt the fall in liquor supply was not due to the fault of sugar mill.

Therefore the sugar mill would go to the High Court against this imposition of fine by the excise department, he said.

According to him there was a fall in cheap liquor supply when the State Government put a ban on sale of cheap liquor produced by the sugar mill in polythene pouches. Liquor had to be sold only in sealed bottles.

The Aska sugar mill which had facility to pack liquor in pouches had to opt for a bottling unit. During this transition there was a fall in supply for which the sugar mill could not be blamed, said Mr Dash.

Liquor price

The State Government revoked its order in April and allowed the sugar mill to supply liquor in both pouches and bottles. Since then the Aska sugar mill had been continuing to produce and supply two lakh units every day, he said.

The MD said it was high time the Government allowed the sugar mill to hike the price of the liquor produced by it.

“Otherwise we are incurring losses through the production and sale of cheap liquor as the production cost is on the rise,” he said.