Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday said it was unfortunate that the Maharashtra government was giving priority to liquor sale for financial gains, days after the state government allowed sale of wine in supermarkets and walk-in shops.
Maharashtra Skill Development Minister Nawab Malik had last Thursday said the state cabinet took the decision to give a boost to fruit-based wineries which provide additional income to farmers.
Hazare in a statement on Monday said it is the government's duty to discourage people from drugs, alcohol and addiction. It is sad to see that decisions are being made to promote alcohol and addiction only for revenue generation, he said.
"The Maharashtra government recently decided to allow the sale of wine in supermarkets and grocery stores. This decision is very unfortunate for the people of Maharashtra. The state government said the decision was taken in the interest of farmers. The state government also said wine is not alcohol. The real question is where will such a decision take the state?" the activist asked.
While people of the state are protesting against the government's decision, those in the government are supporting it, he said.
"It is unfortunate for the people of this state that the government has given priority to the sale of liquor in this way only to generate revenue," Hazare said.
Talking about the interest of farmers, he said the state and central governments should provide a fair price for what ordinary cultivators grow in their fields.
"But, what exactly the government wants to achieve by setting a target of selling 1,000 crore litres of wine a year? This means the government is okay with people getting addicted, but it (government) will insist that its revenue should increase," he said.
Hazare also said that in November last year, the Maharashtra government reduced the Excise duty on imported Scotch whiskey by 50 per cent.
The government plans to increase the sale of such liquor and increase its revenue from Rs 100 crore to Rs 250 crore, he added.