Saturday, July 24, 2010

Review liquor policy and save the State, Dr. JP Appeals to Rosaiah of freedom struggle era

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that the wise and experienced Chief Minister K. Rosaiah belonging to the freedom struggle era immediately review the liquor policy if he is not bent on making more and more women widows and more and more children orphans and perpetuating poverty and ill health.

Dr. JP rubbished the Government excuse that maximizing revenue from liquor sales is inevitable if it were to implement its plus Rs.100,000 crore budget in the interests of economic development and social welfare. The Government spent in all about Rs.15000 crore a year on welfare schemes like supply of essential commodities at subsidized rates, free power to farmers, student fee reimbursement, Arogyasri, housing and employment guarantee scheme. In contrast, poor people spent at least Rs.25000 crore on consumption of liquor, arrack and gudumba.

Dr. JP addressed a media conference after inaugurating a photo exhibition on the 16-day campaign launched by the Lok Satta, the Mahila Satta and Yuva Satta in 16 districts of the State for 16 days demanding that the Government restrict liquor consumption through a series of policy initiatives.

Dr. JP underlined that the Government need not necessarily fund its welfare schemes by falling back on sin money the liquor generates. It could augment its revenue by curbing monumental corruption and dropping all ill conceived schemes.

Dr. JP said Andhra Pradesh has earned the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 State in India in liquor sales (Rs.100 crore a day) and having a Government that is wedded to maximizing revenue from liquor (Rs.18000 crore a year). It has had the privilege of honoring a dealer who bagged the license for a liquor shop for the highest amount of Rs.5.22 crore. He said he would not blame officials for the state of affairs since they merely carried out Government directives.

Dr. JP called upon people to revolt against Government’s liquor policy if the State were to be prevented from being turned into a graveyard. Women, youth and NGOs should strive to get the illegal belt shops and sitting rooms attached to licensed shops closed by forming village-level committees. Thereafter, they should demand that the Government provide them basic amenities like drinking water, health care and education and empower elected people’s elected representatives. The Lok Satta is prepared to train them in working for the all-round development of villages.

Mr. P. Suryachandra, Sarpanch of Burugupudi village in Kirlampudi mandal in East Godavari district pointed out that the Government went ahead with the opening of a liquor shop in his village, although the village panchayat, the gram sabha, the mandal parishad and 1200 women of the village had represented to the authorities against grant of license. Officials who promised to get the wine shop removed after he went on a fast for six days were yet to fulfill their promise.

Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, State party General Secretary, Mr. Dasari Ratnam, State Yuva Satta Secretary, and Mrs. M. Mahalaksmi, State Mahila Satta Vice President, who took part in the campaign against unbridled liquor consumption, said there are no villages without belt shops and no shops without sitting rooms in all the districts they visited. They noticed that some dealers ran many shops with one license and maintained sitting rooms as big as cinema halls. Most shops had the patronage of elected leaders.

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