Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday reiterated his demand that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram should put the Odisha Excise Bill, 2005 before the President for her assent.

Writing a second letter to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in two weeks, Patnaik said that the State government has complied to all queries on the Bill raised by different departments. So there should be no delay in getting the President’s assent.

“As there is nothing else pending with the state government, I would request you to follow up the matter,” Patnaik wrote.

Rejecting allegation that the Bill was delayed due to the State’s negligence, Patnaik said the government received certain queries from the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance on February 15 and accordingly the State Government has sent its views on the comments by the department on February 24.

The State Government also claimed that had the Bill secured President’s Assent, it could have taken strong action against liquor traders following the recent hooch tragedy which claimed the lives of 40 people in Cuttack and Khurda districts.

It is noteworthy to mention that the Bill was sent the Union Home Ministry in January, 2009, seeking Presidential assent.

The proposed legislation seeks to replace the Bihar and Odisha Excise Bill-1915. It contains provisions for establishment of excise stations, trial of excise offenders in special courts and forfeiture of property belonging to bootleggers.

Stating that the State has already experienced three tragic incidents with a large number of deaths in 1992, 2006 and February 2012, Patnaik emphasized on immediate approval of the Bill which is pending since 2009, to ensure that the State gets a strong law to deal with the offenders.