More than three years after imposing total prohibition, Mizoram has decided to allow the sale of wine made from locally grown grapes in the markets across the State.
The decision followed large-scale protests after the State Excise and Narcotics Department seized bottles of locally-made grape wine worth ₹22 in May, leading to the death of a woman involved in the wine business.
An official statement said the Mizoram Cabinet on Tuesday approved allowing the manufacture and sale of wine from fresh grapes harvested from local farmers under the provisions of the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Draft Rules, 2022.
But in the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Zoramthanga, it was decided that the prohibition law should continue to be implemented strictly.
The public outcry over the seizure of ‘Champwine’ from the State capital Aizawl — the wine made from grapes grown in the Champhai district — is said to have delayed the publication of the draft rules in the official gazette. The Cabinet approved the rules in its earlier meeting.
Reacting to the seizure, the Champhai Grape Growers’ Society demanded the return of all the seized wine bottles to the vendors besides insisting the wines should be allowed to be sold freely.
The Opposition Congress and other parties also slammed the government after the seizure. They also said the State Government was responsible for driving the woman to death due to anxiety over her loss.
Pressured by the churches and community-based organisations, Mizoram adopted a policy of partial prohibition after it became a Union Territory in 1972. The government allowed opening of wine shops in 1984 under the provisions of the Mizoram Excise Act of 1973 but these shops and bars were closed in 1987, the year Mizoram became a State.
The Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1995, was enforced from February 20, 1997, till January 15, 2015, when the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control Act) 2014 was notified under the Congress Government.
Fulfilling its pre-poll promise, the Mizo National Front government headed by Zoramthanga implemented the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Act, 2019, leading to the shutting down of liquor shops and warehouses.
The law prohibits the selling, manufacture, consumption and export of liquor and any liquid containing alcohol.