Biswanath district’s guardian minister, Pijush Hazarika, on Friday issued strict instructions to the district and police administration to destroy all illegal liquor hubs in the district within three days. The minister said based on his own research, he has figured out that areas where illegal liquor hubs exist, transform into Covid hotspots.
“If we are to control the Covid situation in Biswanath district, all liquor hubs will have to be destroyed within three days. There will be no compromise on this ground. I want everyone to take this order with utmost seriousness,” said Hazarika. He cited examples from other districts to corroborate his findings.
Hazarika was in the north Assam district to review the Covid situation. Biswanath district has been under round-the-clock curfew since June 28, after a fresh surge in the positive cases was reported. Though the positivity rate in Biswanath has dipped to 2.77 per cent from 3.35 per cent since imposition of curfew, the minister warned that the circle officers would be answerable in the event of non-compliance of his order in their respective revenue circles.
Out of the seven districts of the state that have been put under total lockdown from Wednesday, three are on the northern bank of Brahmaputra. Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Biswanath, each of the three districts have reported more than 1,000 cases in the past 10 days (till Thursday evening).
While the minister asked the administration and the health department to ramp up vaccination in and around Covid hotspots, he said that to minimize the risk of a positive patient transmitting the virus, home isolation should not be strongly encouraged. “Only those patients who strictly meet all the criteria of home isolation, as laid down by National Health Mission (NHM), should be allowed to stay at home,” Hazarika said.
But the menace of illicit liquor from Arunachal Pradesh may have done more damage to neighbouring Lakhimpur district where highest — 285 daily cases — among all districts of the state was detected on Thursday. Arunachal has some important transit routes along the Lakhimpur inter-state border where several other illegal smuggling rackets were foiled in the past.
With the objective to curb inflow of illicit liquor from Arunachal Pradesh into Biswanath and North Lakhimpur districts, principal secretary of the state excise department, Rajesh Prasad, has issued strict instructions to officials of the department of both the districts to keep a strict vigil in border areas. Prasad also held a detailed review meeting of the excise department of both the districts at Biswanath Chariali Circuit House.
He said that inflow of illicit liquor from Arunachal Pradesh was not only costing the exchequer, but also posing a serious threat to the health of the consumers. He said, “If found, consignments of illegal liquor should be immediately seized by the department.” He also asked the officials of the department to increase patrolling throughout the districts and keep a strict eye on movement of goods vehicles.
Also present at the meeting were Biswanath deputy commissioner Pranab Kumar Sarmah and superintendent of police Ripul Das.