LS passes bill to transfer control of potable alcohol to states

New Delhi :Lok Sabha today passed a bill that provides for transfering from the central government to the states the control over industries engaged in the production of potable alcohol.

The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, was passed by a voice vote in the absence of Congress and Trinamool Congress which were boycotting the House over some “objectionable” remarks by a BJP member against Rahul Gandhi and Nehru-Gandhi family.

Replying to a discussion on the Bill, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the amendment would bring potable alcohol under the jurisdiction of states and help address the issue of litigations which have been filed.

“This Bill is to define with clarity what is within the powers of the Centre and what is within the powers of the states,” the Minister said while noting that taxation aspects come under a different Act.

The Bill proposes to amend the first schedule of the Act so that it would be “in conformity with the judgement of the Supreme Court (of 1997) and also ensure that the industries engaged in the manufacture of alcohol meant for potable purposes shall be under the total and exclusive control of states in all aspects”.

According to the Minister, the Bill is to implement the Supreme Court ruling in 1997 whereby potable alcohol is to come under the control of states.

Participating in the discussion, Tatagatha Satpathy (BJD) said the government was bringing the Bill in the wake of the Bihar election results and the state’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announcing alcohol ban.

The contention was rejected by Sitharaman saying it has no relation with Bihar poll results.

Sitharaman expressed hope that alcohol and ethanol would be used more for purposes that would improve energy and fuel efficiencies rather than going towards production of potable alcohol which is detrimental to the health of people.

Citing the Bill and various other initiatives, the Minister said the central government believes in federalism, sharing power with states and strengthen them.