Liquor outlets, distilleries to be under CCTV surveillance during LS polls in T’gana

PTI, Mar 31, 2024, 12:08 PM IST

For the first time in Telangana, all 24 liquor production points have been brought under CCTV surveillance to keep a check on the illegal flow of alcohol in the run-up to the May 13 Lok Sabha elections.

Chief Electoral Office Vikas Raj said to prevent unwarranted liquor distribution during the elections, the state Excise Department is monitoring the sale of alcohol and will inform the Election Commission if there is a spike of more than 20 per cent in its production.

The official said all the belt shops (unauthorised satellite shops) of liquor were shut down and the illegal network of distribution was stopped to a large extent. “For the first time in Telangana state, 24 production points (for liquor–distilleries and breweries) all of them were brought under CCTV. And that was centrally monitored by the Commissioner’s office and I (CEO) also have access to that.

The outlets were brought under CCTV surveillance in September 2023 (ahead of state assembly polls). From then onwards we started monitoring the production of liquor, where it is being transported and whether everything is being accounted for or not. This way we were able to ensure that liquor movement is regulated and controlled ( during polls), Vikas Raj told PTI in an interview.

As part of efforts to crack down on illegal distribution of freebies, he said there is strict vigil on all godowns including those belonging to e-commerce platforms by forming teams by the GST and CGST departments.

Almost 1,700 such godowns were listed in the state and they were monitored on a real-time basis. Based on that, about Rs 80-Rs 90 crore worth of material was seized during the Assembly elections in November last year, the official added.

After the announcement of Lok Sabha election schedule, law enforcement agencies have seized cash, gold, liquor, freebies among others worth over Rs 38.12 crore during March 18 to March 24.

As on November 29, cash, gold, liquor, freebies among others all worth about Rs 759 crore was seized in Telangana ahead of the Assembly polls. On Narcotics, the CEO said enforcement agencies have adopted a counter-intelligence strategy to identify kingpins and the routes in which drug susbtance is moved, which led to a large number of seizures during Assembly elections.

Telangana has 3.30 crore voters as on March 17 and after the assembly polls in November last year, nearly 13 lakh new voters have been enrolled while about nine lakh names were deleted resulting in a net addition of four lakh electors.

Regarding the deployment of manpower in polling stations and various other activities, he said his team identified about 1.9 lakh people needed in polling stations and necessary orders have been issued to the employees for the election duties.

The election authorities have identified 5,000 low voter turnout polling stations (pertaining to 2023 Assembly polls in Telangana) and steps such as door-to-door campaigns through Booth Level Officers are being conducted to motivate people to exercise their franchise in polls and ascertain reasons for not voting.

On the initiatives to increase turnout in the coming Lok Sabha elections, he said the EC is planning to rope in some celebrities to send messages through social media platforms for creating awareness.

Telangana recorded 62 per cent voter turnout in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.

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