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17 November, 2010

MIZORAM: NO LONGER A ‘DRY STATE’ BUT THE MLTP ACT STILL REMAINS

Amendments are made when existing laws are no longer appropriate for the state and the society. There is no denying that the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act (1995) has many loopholes and disadvantages. It could also be deemed as a failure like in any other states. At the same time, amendments do not come easy especially regarding the basic themes of the MLTP Act viz. prohibition of consumption, manufacture and sale of alcohol mainly due to the role of the pressure groups (the Church, the Young Mizo Association, the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl etc.)

In the wake of a new millennium, the successful cultivation of grapes in Hnahlan and Champhai areas compelled the Government under the chief ministership of Zoramthanga to make amendments for the consumption, manufacture and sale of wine in Mizoram. It was also seen as a source of revenue for the government. In 2008, the Mizoram Excise & Narcotics (Wine) Rules, was therefore, made under Section 70 of the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1995. These rules came into force with effect from 9th April, 2009.

Zawlaidi: Red Port Wine
Following the legalization of wines, the Grape Growers Society and the Horticulture Department pushed way for the manufacture and sale of local wine known as ‘Zawlaidi’ (synonymous with love potion). The local-made wine which contains about 14% alcohol has been sold in the markets freely since October this year. After more than a decade of total prohibition of alcohol, some amount of alcohol is now permitted in the state. The dual existence of wine rules (2008) and the total prohibition act (1995), which are contradictory to each other necessitate yet another major change in alcohol policy. The Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act (1995) should be repealed, and not only because of legalization of local-made wines but also because it has many loopholes. Repealing the MLTP Act does not necessarily mean the liberalization of alcohol in Mizoram but of regulation according to which a new Act would be made such as the Mizoram Liquor Partial Prohibition Act or the Mizoram Liquor Regulation Act which would also be on par with the Church and other pressure groups.
Since alcohol policy is under the legislative power of state governments as found in Article 47 of the Directive Principles of State Policy, it is all upto the policy makers now to make a ‘change’. Is it not a matter of good governance and the responsibility of a good government to fix contradicting laws and policies which may in fact hamper the growth of a state?
Hnahlan Winery


Picture source:
1) http://tanpuia.com/miz/files/2011/08/zawlaidi2.jpg
2) http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg823/scaled.php?server=823&filename=zawlaidi04.jpg&res=medium

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