Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: State Excise Minister Niranjan Pujari Friday assured the members of the Odisha Nisa Nibaran Mancha that the government would reconsider a bulk of their demands while formulating the new excise policy next year.

It is pertinent to note that the excise department had earlier shot letters to Collectors of all districts to grant temporary licence to allow sale of intoxicants in various fairs, private and public events and other regimental camps. This apart, the department had asked the officials of excise stations to come up with proposals for opening of new IMFL off-shops.

Condemning this, the anti-liquor campaign led by the Nisa Nibaran outfit today gheraoed the residence of the Minister and staged a peaceful demonstration as a mark of protest against the State government's decision to promote alcohol business by opening more liquor outlets in Odisha.

However, the outfit later called off agitation and decided to defer the strike till November 22 following a discussion with the Minister.

"The Minister has assured that the orders to grant licence and opening of new liquor outlets would be revoked by November 23. We have given an ultimatum to the government on this. Protests will intensify if the government does not reconsider its decision," said a member of the outfit.

Excise Minister Niranjan Pujari said, "The discussion was fruitful. The outfit has been demanding to cancel the orders allowing sale and consumption of liquor in marriage functions and other socio-cultural events. Since years, grant of temporary licence for such events has been included in the policy. And it's granted in rarest of the rare occasions. I have assured that the government will reconsider their demands while formulating new excise policy in February next year."