Sinlung /
26 March 2012

Dry Law Fails To Make Mizoram Dry

Aizawl, Mar 26 : The total prohibition on liquor, imposed in Mizoram since 1997, has failed to make the Christian-dominated state a dry land, a study has recently revealed.

The study group constituted by the state in its report submitted to the government a few days back found that the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act 1997 is a failure because of unceasing demand.

"The prohibition has only increased bootlegging and consumption of spurious liquor as there is an unceasing demand for drinks.

The poor quality of liquor and their exorbitant prices have in turn badly affected the drinkers' health and economy respectively," the study said.

The group involving members of psychology department of Mizoram University found that incidents of cirrhosis among drinkers in Mizoram was on the rise during the last 15 years and added there is still plenty of liquor despite the prohibition, only the prices are extraordinarily high.

Questionnaires were distributed to all major nongovernmental organisations and the churches with most of them saying the prohibition is a failure. However, majority of the organisations, including the adamant churches, recommended that the law remains, and more stringently enforced.

If the controversial law is to remain, it should undergo some modifications while the Excise & Narcotics Department be reinforced and NGOs, like the Young Mizo Association, which has been actively cooperating with the government in enforcing the law, should be motivated.

The department with strength of 542 employees is responsible for enforcing the prohibition and fighting the massive drug menace in this strategic north eastern state, sandwiched between Myanmar and Bangladesh and sharing a 722 km international border with the two countries.

If not for powerful NGO like the Young Mizo Association which has branches all over the state, the excise department would have done very little.

According to Excise & Narcotic Department records, four people, including a woman, died after consuming bad liquor in 1997, the first year of prohibition. Afterwards, there were no reports of spurious liquor-related deaths for two years.

Then in 2000, there were nine deaths, including two women, and the number rose to 14 in 2001, the records informed, adding there was no report of deaths in 2002 but from 2003, spurious liquor claimed lives each year, bringing the total number of deaths to 55 till December 2011.

According to head of Forensic Medicines & Toxicology Department of Aizawl Civil Hospital Dr Lalrozama, most of the deaths were caused by consumption of liquor mixed with methylated spirit. "Some illegal manufacturers of country liquor added methylated spirits or other chemicals to make the liquor stronger.

Consumption of such liquor is extremely poisonous," Dr Lalrozama said. The state Excise & Narcotics Department had arrested more than 40,000 people for bootlegging since the dry law came into effect, official sources said, adding of these, about 30,000 people were convicted.

Meanwhile, police had attributed the increasing crime rates in Mizoram to offenses under the prohibition act.


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