Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Save State from liquor catastrophe, JP appeals to political parties

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today appealed to all political parties and civic organizations to join hands and save the State from the impending liquor catastrophe.

Successive Governments have already succeeded in devastating the health and finances of 75 lakh families or nearly 3.5 crore people. The Excise Year which began on July 1, 2010 threatens to unveil a still darker chapter in the State’s history, he warned quoting facts and figures.

Dr. JP was flagging off Lok Satta Party’s 16-day campaign in as many districts (barring those where Assembly by-elections are due) against the liquor menace. “This is not an issue concerning this party or that party or a problem that can be resolved overnight. It concerns the future of the people. The struggle is going to be long and arduous and warrants supreme sacrifice.

The State Government will be earning up to Rs. 18000 crore as revenue during the new Excise year against Rs.13000 crore in the previous year by way of license fees, excise, sales tax/VAT, and privilege fee. According to a conservative estimate, liquor shop licensees who incur an expenditure of Rs.10 crore a day on license fee alone, have to sell liquor worth Rs.80 crore a day to stay afloat. In other words, people will be spending more than Rs.30000 crore on liquor consumption in the current Excise year, without taking into account their spends on illicit arrack, ‘gudumba’ and adulterated toddy.

Dr. JP said that promotion of unbridled liquor consumption by successive Governments has impoverished millions, aggravated domestic violence and left thousands of families orphaned. It has, however, served the diabolical game of Governments in keeping people in stupor and preventing them from questioning abdication of is basic responsibilities like providing quality education and healthcare. People have not realized that the crumbs that Governments threw at them in the name of welfare schemes cost a mere one-third of the revenue the liquor generated.

Dr. JP regretted that traditional political parties (sampradaya rajakeeya parteelu) have become ‘sara’ parties in that they inculcated liquor consumption among the young through free distribution during elections. If the traditional parties are sincere, they should pledge themselves against free liquor distribution. “I humbly appeal to all political parties and civic organizations to join hands with the Lok Satta and save the State from the impending catastrophe. If you do not wake up now, you may have to rule only over the vast graveyard that Andhra Pradesh seems destined to become.”

Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said the campaign would start from Dubagunta village in Potti Sriramulu Nellore district. Dubagunta women electrified the entire State in the 1990’s by launching a movement against liquor. Closure of belt hops and sitting rooms attached to liquor outlets and rallies by families ruined by liquor will form part of the campaign.

Mrs. N. Saroja Devi, President of the State Mahila Satta, pointed out that there are hundreds of villages without safe drinking water but not a single habitation without a liquor outlet in Andhra Pradesh.

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