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Strife-Torn Manipur Lifts Alcohol Ban, Civil Society Opposes Move

Civil society organisations strongly opposed the state cabinet’s resolution to legalise liquor in the state.
Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh. Photo: Twitter/@NBirenSingh

New Delhi: The Manipur cabinet has lifted a nearly 30-year-old ban on liquor even as the state continues to be embroiled in ethnic conflict and violence that began six months ago.

Manipur has been a dry state since 1991 after it enacted the “Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act” in 1991. However, in 2022 it partially lifted prohibition to boost the economy and tackle the problem of illegally produced alcohol and associated health risks.

The state cabinet on Monday (December 4) approved manufacture, production, possession, export, import, transport, purchase, sale and consumption of liquor. The meeting was headed by chief minister N. Biren Singh.

According to an official cited in the report, the state government is expecting an annual revenue of around Rs 600-700 crore post liquor legalisation, the Economic Times reported.

The Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) and All Manipur Women’s Social Reformation and Development Samaj (Nupi Samaj) strongly opposed the state cabinet’s resolution to legalise liquor in the state.

Nupi Samaj president Th Ramani told the Imphal Free Press that while the people of Manipur are mourning the loss of their near and dear ones, the state government is concerned about the production of liquor.

“The state government not taking any decision to resolve the crisis and giving attention to liquor while the state is facing such a difficult situation is extremely unfortunate,” Ramani said.

A dry state since 1991

While the 1991 Act allowed exemptions to scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) communities to produce liquor under their traditional system and customary laws, the state cabinet on September 20, 2022, had partially lifted the prohibition for others as well.

This lift allowed sale and consumption of liquor at the district headquarters, hotels having not less than 20 beds, and the locally brewed country liquor would be exported outside the state, the Economic Times reported.

The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), the apex body of the Indian alcoholic beverages industry, has welcomed the Manipur government’s latest move.

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