Rajasthan has a drinking problem - of a different kind

Dev Ankur Wadhawan
Dev Ankur WadhawanFeb 09, 2017 | 20:02

Rajasthan has a drinking problem - of a different kind

Is alcohol an evil that needs to be shunned? Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently lauded Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for his liquor prohibition drive and ruled a dry state, Gujarat, for more than a decade, seems to believe so.

But in Rajasthan, a state ruled by BJP's Vasundhara Raje, the state administration is on a different mission altogether.

Perturbed by falling revenue from liquor sales, it has decided to reprimand officials under whose watch revenue targets have fallen below expectations.


Officials from as many as 19 districts have been put on notice. In accordance with its stick policy, their official government vehicles have been taken away.

The website of the state government's excise department proudly proclaims it as the third largest revenue earning department in Rajasthan. Buoyed by its earnings of almost Rs 6,713 crore in financial year 2015-16, it had set itself a target of Rs 7,300 crore for the current financial year.

However, the below par performance so far this financial year led the excise authorities to issue diktats to officials, asking them to pull up their socks.

"The department is a revenue earning department and our focus is on revenue. Inspector and officials have been appointed to maximise revenue. An order has been issued for withdrawing vehicles where officials achieved less than 100 per cent, where less work happened despite government vehicles being there," says OP Pawar, excise department official from Bikaner.

"Senior officials in our department have issued directions to increase sale of liquor in the district or else government vehicles will be taken away from them, as per appropriate action," claims Narayan Singh Tomar, an inspector at the excise station in Bharatpur.

Officials from as many as 19 districts have been put on notice. 

In Bikaner, vehicles of two out of four officials have already been taken away as punishment for not achieving the assigned targets.

None of the districts in Rajasthan has so far been able to achieve the set targets. A few of them, including Udaipur, Banswara, Sirohi, Alwar, Banswara and Dungarpur, achieved above 90 per cent of the set targets. Most are currently between 80-89 per cent of their targets, and their performance has been considered unsatisfactory.

The districts that have performed the most abysmally in the eyes of the excise department include Hanumangarh (72 per cent), Bhilwara (78 per cent), Karauli (78 per cent), Bikaner (78 per cent), Bundi (77.5 per cent) and Ganganagar (75 per cent).

Bikaner, Bhilwara, Boondi, Karauli, Jaipur (rural), Hanumangarh, Kota, Chhitorgarh, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Jhalawar, Dausa and Rajsamand are some districts which have performed poorly in terms of revenue targets.

In some quarters, the fall in revenue this financial year is being considered a direct fallout of PM Modi's demonetisation decision taken in November last year.

In financial year 2015-16, the excise department witnessed per capita revenue earnings in excess of Rs 978 crore. In the same year, it witnessed annual lifting of country liquor of more than 2,184 lakh bulk litres and more than 912 lakh bulk litres of IMFL. Rajasthan currently has 6,658 country liquor shops and almost 10 country liquor shops per lakh.


Perhaps, in a state facing cash crunch due to a variety of reasons, the BJP-led government finds it more expedient to adopt a stance at variance with its central leadership.

(With stringer inputs from Bikaner, Bharatpur and Udaipur.)

Last updated: February 09, 2017 | 20:02
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