‘Havan’ at  Jharkhand liquor department office to scare away ED! 



Ranchi, Nov 12: A hawan (a ritual burning of offerings such as grains and ghee, which is held to mark births, marriages, and other special occasions) at the newly built Excise Department building on Kanke road on Saturday morning aroused curiosity among people whether it was done to ward off any possible probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and to pray for the success of the New Excise Policy which so far has brought huge disappointment and loss to the State.

Situated a few furlongs away from the CM’s House and the residence of the Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice, the locality around the Excise Building turned aromatic with scented smoke coupled with regular chants of the Vedic mantras.

Most of the officers and staff of the department, including Joint Commissioner Gajendra Singh joined the hawan and other elaborate rituals.

Gajendra Singh confirmed that hawan was organized at the office. “We have long been planning to perform hawan. Since today was a holiday, there was no problem organizing it at the office premise. Hawan was performed for the peace and prosperity of the department, Jharkhand and its people,” said Gajendra Singh.

However, an official of the department claimed that Gajendra Singh is follower of a saint and hawan was performed on occasion of his death anniversary. There are other staff and officials who are followers of that saint, hence, all joined the hawan.

But Gajendra Singh dismissed it as speculation and said that hawan was organized purely for the purpose of seeking blessings of the almighty for peace and prosperity of the department, Jharkhand its people, and the government as well.

But insiders said that the ghost of the ED is haunting the department and hawan was done to keep ED away.

And not without reason.

Power broker Prem Prakash, the boss of liquor cartel is an accused of ED

The ED is investigating the two major cases namely the MNREGA scam in Khunti district in which it arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal and the illegal mining case in which it has now summoned Jharkhand Chief minister Hemant Soren on November 17. The ED currently may not be investigating any case related to liquor and excise. But nobody can guarantee that the Excise Department will not be the next target of the agency.

In the illegal mining case, the ED arrested Prem Prakash who is a major player of the liquor trade in Jharkhand. It is said that he is so powerful that he tweaked the Excise Policy and influenced decisions to help the cartel.  He is learnt to have disclosed quite damning information to the ED about a senior bureaucrat. Besides, he is learnt to have disclosed about his other friends in the Excise Department.

The ED has stated about him that he opened firms in the name of his associates and laundered the proceeds of crime acquired out of illegal mining in liquor business too.

New Excise Policy under fire, sale on decline

In fact, the department is grappling with a phenomenal decline in the sale of liquor right after the new excise policy was introduced by the Hemant Soren government. When the Hemant Soren government changed the policy in May this year, the department claimed the new policy had increased the revenue of Jharkhand.

Excise secretary Vinay Choubey claimed that despite the proper system not being in place, the first month’s revenue generation was very huge. He said that it was an indication that the policy was in the right direction as the government took over the sale of liquor.

Excise policy was twice amended in Jharkhand as it failed to deliver the desired result. Previously the liquor policy was changed in 2017 and made effective in March of the same year. But the total revenue of that month was only Rs 30 Crore and there was chaos all over the state due to the gap in the supply and the demand. Besides, there was no proper mechanism to boost the sale. In 2019, the government again changed the excise policy and withdrew from the business.

Now again when the government took control of the liquor business the sale has declined. The excise department has been repeatedly asking placement agencies and concerned officials to increase volume of liquor procurement at retail shops stating that the government is not able to get ‘Minimum Guaranteed Revenue’ (MGR).

The Jharkhand State Beverage Corporation Limited (JSBCL) is facing difficulty due to declining sales. The JSBCL roped in Summeet Facilities, Prime One Workforce, A to Z Infra Services Ltd, Eagle Hunter, M/s Dishita Ventures Pvt Ltd, M/s Om Sai Beverage Pvt Ltd. Now the BJP has alleged that the new excise policy was introduced to commit a scam.

When the lobby cancelled allotment of office space to ED at the Excise department building

Interestingly, the Excise department is known for maintaining safe distance with the entity called ED. On April 25, 2018, the then Raghubar Das government offered a 5,000sqft office on the fourth floor of the new excise building. The then director of the ED Karnal Singh had personally visited Ranchi to thank Chief Secretary Sudhir Tripathi for providing the space.

But months later the building construction department cancelled the allotment on administrative ground. That time it was said that the presence of the ED in the building may cause major inconveniences to the department officials. The ED later on was offered to shift to the not-so-spacious old building of the department at Dhurwa which the ED refused.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *