Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Odisha was on a high during the New Year celebrations. In a startling revelation, Odisha State Beverages Corporation (OSBC) informed that a staggering 11 lakh litre of alcohol was sold in the State on December 30, a day before the zero night celebrations across the State. In the process, OSBC earned more than Rs 60 crore in revenue.

As per the OSBC, the corporation supplies liquor amounting to about Rs 20 crores to vendors on a normal day. However, it supplied more than thrice the amount on December 30 which was a Saturday.

As December 31 was a Sunday and OSBC depots remained closed on that day, liquor off-shops and on-shops stocked up the booze a day in advance for the year-end celebrations. Around 2,000 retail shops in the State bought 11 lakh litre of alcohol from nine government depots of the OSBC, amounting to a total revenue of Rs 60.73 crore for the OSBC. However, as per the members of anti-liquor forums in Odisha, the quantity of liquor sold before the New Year is much more than the information provided by the OSBC.

“Though the OSBC is saying that Rs 60.73 crore worth of liquor has been sold, the actual amount is much more than that. Earlier, the retailers have hoarded huge quantities of liquor anticipating huge sales on the occasion of New Year,” said Dr Bijay Kumar Swain, a senior member of the Milita Odisha Nisha Nibarana Abhihan.

As per sources, there has been a huge surge in demand for foreign liquor and IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) in Odisha. The OSBC sold IMFL and other foreign liquors amounting to Rs 50.84 crore on December 30. Similarly, beer amounting to Rs 8.04 crore and country liquor worth Rs 1.83 crore were supplied through its depots. The offtake included 6.72 lakh litre IMFL, 4.83 lakh litre beer and 80,770 litre country liquor.

While Cuttack registered the highest purchase of 68, 591 litre foreign liquor, it was followed by Bhubaneswar which saw an offtake of 63, 898 litres. 

Meanwhile, former Excise Commissioner Sudarshan Nayak slammed the State government for promoting the sale of liquor in the State.

“It’s quite unfortunate that large numbers of people in Odisha are consuming liquor. As per Article 42 of the Constitution of India, every government should work towards the prohibition of liquor consumption. However, instead of prohibiting liquor consumption, the Odisha government is promoting the sale and consumption of liquor in the State,” rued former Excise Commissioner, Sudarshan Nayak.

The National Family Health Survey states that Odisha is way ahead in liquor consumption than the national average. As per the 2019-21 survey report, 18.8 per cent males above the age of 15 consume liquor in the country. However, the percentage is 28.8 in Odisha. Similarly, 4.3 per cent of women consume alcohol in Odisha while the national average is 1.3 per cent.

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