Manipur ends 3-decade liquor ban and sets up beverage corporation to oversee liquor sales

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After over 30 years of liquor sale ban in Manipur, the state has taken a step towards ending prohibition. The state cabinet recently approved the establishment of the Manipur State Beverages Corporation Limited (MSBCL). Besides this, the Cabinet also approved the Manipur Excise (Amendment) Rules, 2023 and also reviewed and revised value added tax (VAT).

This decision has come after years of debate surrounding the ban imposed by the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act of 1991. It marks a significant shift in policy and paves way for regulated alcohol sales in specific regions.

The MSBCL will oversee the legal manufacture, production, possession, purchase, sale, consumption, import-export and transportation of alcohol in designated areas, including Greater Imphal, district headquarters, tourist destinations and registered hotels with a minimum of 20 rooms.

The MSBCL will operate under the State’s Finance Minister, who will be the Ex-Officio Chairman of the board. Its Board of Directors will include Chief Secretary, Secretary (Finance), Secretary (Home), Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), Secretary (Rural Development and Panchayati Raj), Secretary (Education) and Secretary (MAHUD). The corporation aims to ensure responsible alcohol consumption and generate revenue for the state.

The implementation of the new policy will be closely monitored as the corporation will oversee the standardization and licensing for the production and sale of local liquor or Distilled Indigenous Country (DIC) liquor, focusing on ensuring quality control and compliance with the law.

In order to regulate alcohol consumption responsibly, the minimum age required for the production, operation of shops, sale, and consumption has been set to 25 years, a significant increase from the previous minimum age of 18 years.

Stringent regulations are in place to prevent the sale and consumption of alcohol within a 100-meter radius of educational institutions, hospitals, and places of worship. Additionally, sales are prohibited within 500 meters of national highways, except in areas under municipal governance.

The decision to end prohibition has been met with mixed reactions. Proponents argue that the move will generate revenue of over ₹600 crore for the state while addressing health concerns arising from unregulated liquor.

However, opponents like the Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) expressed concerns about the potential for increased alcohol abuse and potential adverse health effects. They also worry about exclusive benefits for certain stakeholders.

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