AIZAWL, March 20 - Prohibition is all set to make a comeback in the Christian State of Mizoram.
With the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Bill 2019 unanimously passed in the State Assembly today, the State will literally come under dry spell from April 1, four years after the previous Congress Government allowed opening of liquor shops.
The Bill introduced by Excise & Narcotics Minister Dr K Beichhua seeks to ban manufacturing, possessing, transporting and consuming any type of liquor. The Bill, however, allows prescription of liquor by medical practitioners on medical grounds.
Dr K Beichhua, who introduced the Bill, said enactment of the Prohibition Bill will result in an annual loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 70 crore approximately. Notwithstanding the huge revenue loss, Prohibition is a necessity in view of public health and law and order, he said.
The Mizo National Front (MNF) had made Prohibition one of its main electoral agendas alleging that the opening of liquor shops resulted in the death of many youths, including policemen during the last four years. In reality, Prohibition agenda was aimed to appease the influential churches in Mizoram which are vehemently against opening of liquor shops.
Quick to fulfill its promise, the MNF when it came back to power in the November 2018 elections by defeating Congress, declared dry days from December 21 till January 15. The dry days were later extended till March 15, which, however, was quashed by the Gauhati High Court after the liquor vendors and bonded warehouse owners challenged it.
Prohibition was for the first time imposed in 1997 during the Lal Thanhawla-led Congress Government. The Congress Government led by him had revoked the 18-year-old Mizoram Liquor (Total Prohibition) Act, 1995 and replaced it with Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014, despite objections by powerful NGOs and churches.
The Congress said it decided to replace the total prohibition as spurious liquor from neighbouring States like Assam had flooded the State markets, resulting in several deaths and the State was not earning revenue from the �illegal� business.
Anti-Prohibitionists are of the view that banning liquor is impossible as it only increases the prices of liquor and gives boost to illegal low quality country-made liquor.
�The Prohibitionists also made doubtful claims that the opening of liquor shops resulted in the death of more than a thousand people since the opening of liquor shops. They tend to ignore that there were thousands of liquor-related deaths during the 17 years of Prohibition and also the fact that plenty of liquor was available despite Prohibition,� said senior journalist DR Zirliana.