Odisha excise department has stumbled upon an illegal liquor bottling facility operating from a school campus in Sundargarh district.
Acting on a tip-off, Rourkela excise personnel conducted a raid on the school at Phuljhar village in Nuagaon block of Sundargarh. They found 936 litres of liquor worth ₹6.2 lakh.
Two persons including Surendra Bodei, owner of the premise, were arrested.
Narendra Gop, headmaster of the school, said four of the six rooms available on the premises were used as classrooms while two rooms were left for use of the owner.
The school, which began in 2017, had hardly eight students. The adulterated liquor was being supplied to roadside eateries. One Pawan Mittal was said to be main accused, who was getting raw materials from neighbouring Jharkhand.
In its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pointed out various loopholes in manufacturing and sale of liquor in Odisha.
According to the CAG, manufacture and sale of liquor products in Odisha is regulated by the Excise Commission. There are multiple manufacturers and multiple retailers for liquor products. All of them have to apply for and obtain licences from the Excise Commission.
“To ensure that movement of all liquor products in Odisha State through the legal supply chain is monitored, Excise Adhesive Labels (EAL) is required to be affixed on each liquor product (bottle or can) at the point of manufacture. The Excise Officer in Charge at the manufacturing unit is required to inspect and verify that each liquor product has been affixed with EALs, prior to dispatch of the liquor products from the manufacturer to depot,” the CAG report says.
It says excise commission does not maintain any data on movement of liquor products through the supply chain on its own while it relies on the Odisha State Beverages Corporation Limited, which maintains data on movement of liquor products from manufacturers to its depots, and then from its depots to retailers as part of its supply chain management software application developed by National Informatics Centre.
The apex audit agency has found shortage of excise officers in the department. “There was no software application or mobile application to enable the officers of the enforcement wing of the Excise Commission to scan the EALs affixed on liquor products at any point during the movement through the legal supply chain,” it says .