Mizoram government has decided to allow the processing and sale of locally-made grape wine, more than three years after imposing total prohibition and declaring the state dry, officials said here on Wednesday.
An official of the excise department said that the Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister Zoramthanga at its meeting held on Tuesday deliberated ‘The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Draft Rules, 2022’ and resolved that the prohibition law would continue to be implemented strictly.
“The Cabinet, however, allowed the processing and sale of wine made from fresh grapes harvested locally by the farmers,” the official told the media in Aizawl.
The Cabinet decision followed state-wide protests for the past several months after the officials of the state Excise and Narcotics Department seized large number of bottles of locally-made grape, wine leading to the death of a woman involved in the wine business.
The 52-year-old woman died in May due to anxiety over her business loss after the seizure of grape wine from her shop in Aizawl.
The opposition parties, including the Congress, also slammed the government after the seizure of bottles of locally-made grape wine.
Since 2003-04, several hundred farmers in Mizoram have been growing various varieties of grapes, including the Bangalore Blue variety, under the National Technology Mission for making wine.
In 2007, the Mizoram government had relaxed the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1995, allowing the manufacturing of wine with up to 14 per cent alcohol content.
The influential churches in Mizoram fear that wine with high alcohol content would serve as a substitute for hard drinks in the dry state.
The recent crackdown on Mizoram-made wines has evoked serious reaction, with grape cultivators, wine manufacturers and netizens decrying the government’s action on social media and various other platforms.
Under pressure from churches and civil society groups, Mizoram adopted a policy of partial prohibition after it became a Union Territory in 1972.
Mizoram Excise and Narcotics Minister K. Beichhua had said earlier that the state government had enacted the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Act, 2019 to save future generations from the menace of alcohol and drugs, and to establish a clean Mizo society.