By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 20 Feb: Despite attempts by some senior officers in charge of the Excise Department, there is little chance that the revenue target of the department from the sale of liquor will be met during the current fiscal year. Sources in the department claim that, at present, there is a shortfall of more than Rs 800 crores with respect to the target revenue from the sale of liquor in Uttarakhand. Against the targeted revenue of Rs 3200 crores, so far the earnings have been just Rs 2400 crores. Now, with just about a month left for the current fiscal year to end, it appears that the department can earn a maximum of Rs 200 crores more, which will still leave a shortfall of Rs 500 crores during the year. Commissioner, Excise, Sushil Kumar held a meeting of the District Excise Officers at his office, today, at which he reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the functioning of 3 district excise officers. These districts are Dehradun, Haridwar and US Nagar, which are maximum revenue generating districts for various reasons. Kumar is further learnt to have directed all the district excise officers to ensure maximum collection of revenue by the end of the year. The DEOs were also told that they would be held responsible if smuggled or spurious liquor was found to be sold in their districts. It may be recalled that one or two DEOs have been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons. One BJP leader from Dehradun who holds an important public post is stated to be actively lobbying in favour of one DEO whose several misdeeds have come to light, but he is yet to be transferred. Sources claim that some powerful persons in the BJP Government are openly supporting this DEO and, therefore, he is yet to be transferred although several of his misdeeds had led to his suspension in the past. Several other misdeeds have been exposed in the recent past, too. Sources assert that unless strict action is taken against such officers, it would be impossible to stop pilferage and revenue losses. Sources further point out that one very clear proof of the nexus between the liquor mafia and the excise officials is the fact that over 25 excise offices in the state were running in rented accommodation, but the state excise department is not paying the rent for these offices. It is not difficult to guess who has actually been paying the rent for these excise offices.