January 28, 2009 4:27:05 am
The Left Front government has admitted that hooch business in West Bengal is rampant and thousands of people earn their bread from this industry. The government is now planning to rehabilitate those who are involved in this business.
Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said,according to an estimate,about one lakh people are engaged in several hooch factories across the state. The government is planning to provide them with an alternative economic package to put an end to the business.
Dasgupta on Tuesday gave a power-point presentation at the meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee on Finance,Excise and Planning. Since the death of 28 people in the Behala area recently,the government is planning to introduce a new excise policy to stop the hooch business, said Dasgupta.
According to sources,the government has a plan to reduce the current price of licensed liquor available in the market. This includes both India-made foreign liquor and country-made liquor. If we can reduce the current price of safe liquor,the hooch business can be stopped totally, said the minister.
Dasgupta,who also holds the excise portfolio,asked the police and excise officers to demolish all hooch dens. The minister,however,said it will take time to stop the business. I think it will take another three months to stop this, said Dasgupta.
A senior member of the Trinamool Congress,who attended the meeting,said it is impossible to re-employ one lakh-odd people engaged in the hooch business. “We are not opposed to the government plan to introduce a separate excise policy. But the government will have to face a strong resistance from them,” said an Opposition MLA.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee,meanwhile,said: The CPM is trying to hush up the deaths by claiming that the people have died of heart attack or liver ailment. The CPM-led state government is glorifying and promoting alcohol in Bengal by providing licence for shops in every booth. They are supporting the hooch business. She alleged that the police,the CPM and the administration regularly take money from the illicit hooch dealers.
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