Liquor shops in tribal areas opposed
The provisions of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 (PESA) is coming in the way of Excise officials in auctioning liquor shops in villages.
Tribals thwart attempts of Excise officials to allot liquor shops violating PESA
Kothagudem: The provisions of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 (PESA) is coming in the way of Excise officials in auctioning liquor shops in villages.
Adivasis thwarted the attempts of Excise officials to allot liquor shops in the Agency areas by taking recourse to legal action.
In fact, Bhadradri-Kothagudem district invited tenders to allot 78 liquor shops. Of them, 38 are in the plain areas and the rest in the Agency areas. In allotment of 38 shops, there was no problem.
The Excise department seems to be in a dilemma with the Hyderabad High Court on Saturday ruling that licenses to set up liquor shops should not be given without the permission of Gram Sabha.
The only exception to the rule is that the Gram Sabha should submit resolution within a month of the notification. Otherwise, the government is entitled to allot liquor shops directly.
Meanwhile, the Excise officials made arrangements to allot 40 liquor shops in Agency areas. However, tribals resisted the officials’ attempts through PESA.
It may be recalled that in September, the State government adopted a new liquor policy. It directed district collectors to convene Gram Sabhas in three days and submit a report to the State government.
In fact, the PESA clearly states that enough publicity should be given to hold the Gram Sabha. However, the Adivasis raised the point that the Gram Sabhas were held hurriedly without giving them enough time.
Meanwhile, the Gram Sabhas unanimously adopted a resolution that the liquor shops should be entrusted to the Adivasi societies. The ITDAs at Utnoor, Yeturunagaram and Bhadrachalam adopted the same resolution.
Responding to them, some tribals challenged the attempts in the High Court to allot liquor shops in Agency areas. The High Court bench, led by Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganadhan, issued interim orders restraining the Excise department on the auction of liquor shops without the permission of the Grama Sabha.
Bhadradri-Kothagudem Excise Superintendent C Narsimha Reddy said that the liquor shops would be allotted only with the permission of Gram Sabhas.
Tribal leader Sonde Veeraiah demanded stringent implementation of the PESA and allot liquor shops to tribal societies.
He wanted that the 40 liquor shops should be allotted with the permission of the Gram Sabha ruling out scope for benamis.