Odisha Excise Department Forms Special Squads To Ensure Liquor-free Panchayat Polls

Tasked to ensure liquor does not play spoilsport in the upcoming Panchayat polls, the State Excise Department has formed special squads in different districts.

As per the department sources, raids will be conducted at various places across the state ahead of the forthcoming Panchayat polls. “Checkpoints will be set up in border areas to curb illegal activities such as liquor smuggling from other states. Liquor shops will be closed 48 hours ahead of voting,” said Deputy Commissioner of Excise Department, Ram Chandra Palta, in a press conference on Sunday.

The department has also formed 33 mobile squads to conduct surprise raids on illicit breweries and monitor the activities of previous offenders and criminals, he said. “Any complaint on illegal liquor activities can be filed at Toll-Free No. 18003456713. We have set up control rooms in all the districts of the State. The department will take prompt action after investigating each complaint to ensure a free and fair election,” said Palta.

Notably, as many as 27,107 excise cases were registered in Odisha last year (till December). As many as 22,355 persons were also arrested in this connection. The Excise Department seized 17,32,000 litre of illicit country liquor from their possession.

The three-tier panchayat elections in Odisha will be held in five phases from February 16 to 24 amid strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, the state election commission (SEC) announced earlier. While no political rallies and victory processions will be permitted, door-to-door campaigns with the participation of a maximum of five people, including the candidate, will be allowed, it added.

“In view of the Covid cases, only door-to-door campaigning with not more than five people including the candidate would be allowed. No physical rally of political parties or probable candidates or any other group related to the election would be allowed,” the order read.

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