Jharkhand to probe alleged liquor contract bungling
Ranchi : The Jharkhand assembly speaker has said a house committee will be set up to investigate alleged irregularities in the award of liquor contracts that resulted in huge revenue loss to the state.
"An assembly committee will be constituted to probe the matter. The committee will submit its report in a month," said Speaker Aalamgir Aalam.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Saryu Rai had raised the question regarding the renewal of contracts of liquor syndicates, which caused huge revenue loss to the state government.
Liquor syndicates are district level associations of private traders, who have won contracts from the state government to sell liquor in that district.
"The excise policy formulated in 2004 expired in March 2007. Jharkhand's excise department is yet to come out with a new policy. What is most worrying is that Excise Minister Kamlesh Singh extended the contract of liquor syndicates without inviting tenders from interested parties," Rai told reporters.
When the issue was raised in the house, the excise minister and Chief Minister Madhu Koda said some mistakes had occurred while extending the contracts to private parties.
The state's excise policy of 2004 says private parties will be invited and one district will be auctioned to only one party.
The present government renewed 13 district contracts of liquor syndicates without inviting tenders.
No contracts were issued in the remaining nine districts.
Opposition parties also raised objections on a minister renewing contracts because they said ministers did not have the authority to do that.
BJP's Rai also raised concern over the decreasing collections of excise duty.
In 2005-06, Jharkhand earned Rs1.45 billion ($36 million) from excise duty, which increased to 1.61 billion in 2006-2007.
In the current fiscal, the government has earned only Rs.1.22 billion.