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Manpower crunch to hit excise department's poll duties
March, 08th 2014

The severe shortage of manpower has become a major hurdle for the prohibition and excise department to monitor liquor sales during the upcoming elections as all the political parties generally woo voters with liquor and money.

And the manpower shortage is not just confined to constables in the department but is spread across all levels as recruitments have taken place this year after a huge gap of two decades. This year the district is slated to get 148 constables but the excise department bosses are not in a position to accommodate the new recruits in election duties as they will be joining before 18 March and they need proper training and experience in monitoring and implementing election rules.

Presently, the district excise department has 229 officers, including 56 head constables and 92 constables, in 17 circles or stations. Each station has two sentries to man the stations round the clock, which means the department will not be able to avail the services of 34 constables for election purposes.

On the other hand, the district has many sensitive areas like Anakapalle, Yelamanchili, Madugula, Chodavaram and Narsipatnam, where illegal country made liquor is expected to flow freely during the elections as parties try to woo voters, sources said. Of these, nine circles in the Anakapalle area are most sensitive or vulnerable in nature, they added.

The district has 302 liquor retail outlets and 134 bars and the department has only 148 constables, a few sub-inspector and inspector level officers to keep an eye on these outlets to check illegal liquor transportation, which will be a herculean task.

To overcome the shortage of manpower, the excise department is planning to use the checkposts of the rural police to check the illegal flow of liquor. The rural police are reportedly planning to set up 22 checkposts in their jurisdiction. Once they set up the checkposts, the excise department will assess the illegal transportation points of liquor and set up three officers at each checkpost round the clock.

"We are preparing plans for the efficient monitoring of the liquor sales and to check illegal transportation. It will be finalized in a couple of days. As nine circles in Anakapalle area are sensitive, we are planning to set up four or five squads for regular raids," the district prohibition and excise deputy commissioner M Satyanarayana told TOI. They will set up the squads in consultation with Joint Collector Praveen Kumar as he is the head of the flying squads.

According to the excise deputy commissioner, monitoring and checking of opening and closing time of liquor outlets and bars is the main issue in the Gajuwaka industrial area of Vizag. The department plans to send inspection squads to the industrial area regularly.

The department would also take measures to monitor the sales to ensure that they do not cross the average of last year sales. The value of the liquor sale 302 liquor outlets and 134 bars was Rs 94.84 crores in March 2013 with sales of 2,30,940 cases of liquor and 2,06,966 cartons of beer. In the first six days of March 2014, 31,729 cartons of liquor and 57,674 cases of beer worth Rs 16.12 crore were sold, which is approximately 14% and 28% of the total liquor and beer sales for the month of March 2013.

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