Draft regulation for sale of liquor The list of dos and don’ts

Consumption of alcohol is injurious to health and don’t drink and drive. This is the slogan that is set to greet anyone who decides to pay a visit to a liquor store, when it opens, under the Draft Manipur Liquor Regulation Policy. Hours after Chief Minister N Biren announced for one and all to hear and read that the guidelines for legalising liquor is nearing completion during an address at the flagging off programme of 12 GPS fitted patrol vehicles, out came the draft liquor policy of the State Government. Apparent that the BJP led Government is intent on going ahead with legalising the sale and brewing of alcohol, despite the strong opposition launched by many Meira Paibi Lups and CSOs led by the Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA). So once sale and brewing of alcohol starts under permission from the State Government, what steps can one expect from the anti-liquor lobby ? Difficult to say but perhaps it would have been that much more fruitful if only the Government had left open an avenue for the people of the State, the concerned citizens to give their inputs for addition or deletion to the draft proposal worked out by the Government. The proposals may be implemented gradually and this is an option that may well be worth exploring. The more one looks at the loud and bold ‘Consumption of Alcohol is Injurious to Health’ declaration mandated a compulsion at each and every retail outlet, the more it resembles the slogan ‘Tobacco causes painful death’ line which is embossed in bold on every cigarette packet, which makes the earlier line ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ tame, very tame. However the slogan has remained just that, slogan for there is nothing much to show that it has stopped anyone who loves to take a puff or two from smoking or to quit smoking. The important and interesting question is whether the mandatory one line statement on each and every retail outlet would serve its intended purpose or not. The tipplers and obviously the anti-liquor lobby will have different takes on this but it is clear that the Government is ready to follow up on the line ‘prohibition lifted’. Sale of liquor to be strictly prohibited to anyone below the age of 25 is definitely a move to discourage under aged drinking, but here the Government is intent on not making all adults (that is above the 18 years mark) down a peg or two. Never mind the fact that anyone who has attained the age of 18 can vote and yes will not be tried in a Juvenile Court in case of any crime lodged against him or her.
As expected the Manipur Liquor Policy also says a big no to opening of liquor vendor within 100 metres of educational institutions, religious places, hospitals etc, employment of anyone below the age of 25 in liquor vendor, drinking in public places, mixing drinking and driving to be punishable with a fine of Rs 5000 with minimum of 24 hours of imprisonment as well as making it a criminal offence, country liquor to be manufactured strictly for export outside Manipur except for customary usage, sale of liquor to be from 10 am to 9 pm and no sale on dry days and holidays. This in short is the gist of the Manipur Liquor Policy and it is obvious that while the Government has toed the beaten path care has been taken to make it acceptable to the people such as qualifying the production of local liquor with the line that it should be strictly for sale outside Manipur. The steps mulled over by the State Government are fine and acceptable, coming as it is against strong opposition, but the important question is how effectively the dos and don’ts can be implemented. Remember one primary reason spelt out for lifting prohibition comes under the line ‘prohibition has not stopped people from drinking alcohol’ or in other words it has failed ! If prohibition cannot be  enforced effectively then can one expect the dos and don’ts to be implemented effectively ? The answer is out there and only time will tell how effective the restraining lines will be at the ground level.