Jammu- Illegal crops spread over 625 acres of land and nearly one lakh litres of illicit liquor were destroyed in Jammu and Kashmir this year, Excise Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Sharma said, asserting that the proactive approach of the department ensured “zero deaths” by spurious liquor consumption in the Union Territory.
He said the department has implemented an e-governance initiative by designing e-Abgari portal that has led to transparency, efficiency and accountability in the system.
“The excise department being one of the constituent departments under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act plays a vital role in uprooting poppy and cannabis in collaboration with Anti-Narcotic Task Force (ANTF) and Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB).
“The drive against the banned crops was encouraging in Kashmir where 4,143 kanals (517.8 acres) was cleared of cannabis and 645 kanals (80.6 acres) of poppy cultivation by September this year. The drive was also carried out at a major scale for the first time in Jammu region where a total of 250 kanals (31.2 acres) were cleared of wildly grown cannabis,” Sharma told PTI.
However, he said there is a drastic reduction of 90 percent incidences of the banned crop cultivation in the valley.
“Poppy cultivation has been literally confined to kitchen gardens that too for traditional use of its seeds locally known as ‘Khaskhash’. This year that too was destroyed by the department along with the cannabis whose cultivation has dropped almost below one percent,” he said.
He said 54 FIRs were registered till September against the offenders with Anantnag and Pulwama districts in south kashmir accounting for the highest 26 and 20 cases, respectively. Last year, a total of 31 cases, 19 in Pulwama district alone, were registered.
The commissioner said the department last year destroyed 1.35 lakh litres of Lahan’ (illicit liquor) after generating special information, mostly in Jammu region, while 95,000 litres of Lahan was destroyed till September this year with culprits booked under relevant sections of the law.
“We have a very proactive approach against illicit liquor…We generate information from our sources and act swiftly to wipe out the menace and save the human lives,” he said. “There were no deaths related to consumption of illegal liquor in the Union Territory.”
Sharma said provision of providing quality liquor to the consumers is one of the important functions of the department.
“We prevent illicit distillation and eradicate bootlegging for which two of our dedicated teams – enforcement wing and eradication wing are working round-the-clock,” he said.
He said the department stepped up its drive against the banned crops and illicit liquor during the month-long ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan’ (drugs free India campaign).
“The drugs-free campaign was taken on a mission mode and a major drive was launched with a twin objective to eradicate the menace of drugs and reach out to the youth with focus on students under corporate social responsibility.
“Open gym equipment was donated to universities, painting competitions and seminars were organised to spread awareness about the campaign, especially in Kashmir. The officers also roped in religious preachers and went door to door to make the campaign successful,” Sharma said.
On the ease of doing business, he said a major step introduced by the department was the implementation of e-governance initiative by designing the e-Abgari portal.
“It is a module-based portal and under the ease of doing business, we have offered 25 G2B (government to business service) and 6 G2C (government to citizen) services. This has reduced the human interface while availing services of the department that has led to transparency, efficiency and accountability in the system,” he said.
The excise commissioner said time taken to register or classify brands or labels of different categories of liquor have been minimised from 20 days to 2-3 days that too without visiting office premises.
“This has led to immediate issuance of import or export permits that otherwise was taking more than five days leading to more production and hassle-free transport of liquor,” he said.
Sharma said the provision to receive cashless payment by way of e-wallet integrated with e-GRAS (Government Receipt Accounting System) has led to real-time reflection of credit into the account of the licencees.
“Even the payment into the government treasury is now without any lag time,” he said.