Liquor, contraband and other illegal substances worth about Rs 10.5 crore were seized in a month as the intelligence wing of the state excise department launched a special drive to prevent excise-related crimes and offences to ensure free and fair panchayat elections in Odisha.

The special enforcement drive in the wake of polls was launched on January 1, 2022. Sources in the department said the drive will continue till the completion of the election process.

Special squads have been formed for enforcement work and patrolling duty round-the-clock.

“We have divided the state into three divisions, each containing 10 districts. Each intelligence team will look after enforcement in their respective division. At the zilla level, multi-disciplinary squads—comprising sleuths of Excise, Police and Forest departments, Executive Magistrates and Revenue officers—will carry out around-the-clock monitoring,” said excise deputy commissioner and state flying squad chief Ramachandra Palta.

Though the enforcement work is in full swing, no abnormal trend has been observed so far, as per the officer. “We are also regularly monitoring the sales of wholesale dealers and retailers and Odisha State Beverage Corporation,” said Patel.

On January 29, Sushil Kumar Lohani, principal secretary, excise department, had directed the enforcement agencies to check border points, conduct night patrolling and frequent raids on illegal manufacturing, distribution and sale points of the ID, duplicate, spurious and non-duty paid liquors. Control rooms were then set up in every district.

Between January 1 and 28, 3,143 cases were detected. A total of 2,597 accused were arrested in various NDPS and excise cases, and 90,688 litres of liquor and 818150 litres of wash (base raw material for manufacturing country liquor), besides other contraband, was seized.

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An official from the department said in the previous years, there have been instances of ‘abnormal’ consumption of liquor during the polls.

“For fair conduct of polls, strict enforcement is necessary,” he said

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