On Tuesday, the Mizoram Cabinet headed by chief minister Zoramthanga, allowed the processing of wine made from local grapes in the state. Mizoram is a dry state and this is a significant change.
In 2019, the Mizo National Front (MNF) government led by Zoramthanga introduced The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Act to fulfil the party’s pre-poll promises. It disallowed sale, manufacture, consumption and export of liquor and any drink containing alcohol. However, it kept ‘tabs on production and sets a quota for distribution to licensed vendors within the state’ reported a Lounge story published last year. Mizoram has a wine made with locally-grown grapes named Champwine.
In May this year, the state government had seized massive quantities of locally-produced grape wine in Champai district from east Mizoram. Government officials claimed the shops which were raided were selling imported liquor too. But, shop owners and producers were enraged because their local wine was part of the lot that was seized. Ever since grape grower’s societies from those regions protested to demand legislation to brew wine and return of the seized bottles of homegrown liquor.
A story published in The Meghalayan, a newspaper from Meghalaya, highlights, “The grape growers had been growing grapes with the funding of the horticulture technology mission since 2001, and a major calamity befell them when their products were raided and seized by the officials for the first time in May 2022.”
On Tuesday, Zoramthanga along with his cabinet of ministers implemented The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition) Draft Rules, 2022. They concluded the prohibition law would continue to be followed strictly, although the sale and production of wine has been allowed. According to a story published in PTI, processing will be allowed only if the wine is brewed from ‘fresh grapes harvested locally by farmers under the prohibition law.’
The primary grape-growing regions in the state are Champhai and Hnahlan. The Meghalayan quoted state excise and narcotics minister Dr K Beichhua as saying that ‘approval of the wine rules would facilitate sale of grape wines produced in the Northeastern parts of the state for sacramental wines and beverages.’
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